Pedestrians, Bicyclists, and Drivers: Sharing the Roadway

A 34-year-old bicyclist was struck and killed by an SUV at around 7:40 p.m. on Saturday, May 12th near 10th and Spring Garden streets in Philadelphia. This is only one instance of a sadly all too common occurrence in both Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs. Drivers must always be aware of growing numbers of pedestrians, runners, and bicyclists who share the roadways and crosswalks. There are several things you should know if you are one of the many drivers, walkers, or bicyclists in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s Motor Vehicle Code considers bicycles as vehicles for purposes of traffic laws, and every person riding a bike on a roadway has the same rights and responsibilities as a driver of a vehicle, with a few exceptions. Thus, while you have every right to ride your bicycle on the street, if you violate traffic laws, you not only increase your risk of an accident, but can be found at fault in the event of an accident. The following are a few examples of safety precautions drivers must take when encountering bicyclists on the roadway:

  • Vehicles must allow 4 feet of distance when overtaking/passing a bike, and travel at a careful and prudent speed. It is the motorist’s responsibility to provide this distance, not the biker.
  • Vehicles may overtake/pass a bike in a no-passing zone to avoid excessive delays, but must be with due care and still providing the required 4 feet of clearance.
  • No person shall open any car door while parked alongside a roadway unless it is reasonably safe to do so, and must not interrupt a biker’s path or disrupt traffic flow.

A pedestrian is subject to traffic signals just like a vehicle, and a pedestrian has the right of way at a crosswalk where no traffic control signal is in place. If the pedestrian is not in a crosswalk, the vehicle has the right of way. However, even if you are not in a crosswalk, or a jury finds you partly to blame for the accident (e.g., you were texting or otherwise distracted when you walked into traffic), you may still be able to recover damages if you were 50 percent or less at fault. There is one important difference for those struck by vehicles while walking: limited tort does not apply to pedestrians. Thus, even if you or your household chose limited tort car insurance, you are considered full tort if you were injured as a pedestrian and not a driver or occupant of a vehicle.

We regularly represent injured persons in auto accident claims in Philadelphia, Delaware County, and the surrounding area, including pedestrians, runners, and bicyclists struck by vehicles. While nothing can completely erase the physical and emotional impacts of a car accident, our experienced attorneys can help when insurance companies refuse to fully compensate you for your suffering. If you have been injured by a vehicle while walking, jogging, or riding your bicycle, call our office at 610-446-3457 to set up a consultation with our attorneys. We will explain the process, guide you, and fight to get you compensation for your injuries.

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