Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Guest Post - Are Cyclists Required to Use the New Bike Lanes?

Guest Post: Lawyer/Bike Racer, Rick Holzworth, Discusses Whether Cyclists are Required to Use Bike Lanes

Bike lanes are popping up all over the City. (See here and here.) And the statistics are showing that people on bikes are using them. (See here.) The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership recently released a report showing that cyclists on Penn Avenue made over 24,000 trips on the Penn Ave bike lane in the month of May, alone!!! 

According to Bike Pgh, the US Census report recently showed a "meteoric 408% increase in Pittsburgh bike commuting since 2000, the largest jump of any City in the nation." The statistics also indicate that Pittsburgh doubled its bike commuting numbers since 2007, roughly around the time that we started developing our bike lanes. This dramatic increase in cycling within the City puts Pittsburgh in 11th place for rate of bike commuters, just behind Philadelphia. Those are some impressive numbers. 

But, now that we have all these bike lanes - and now that all these people are commuting all over town - are people on bikes required to use the new bike lanes? Lawyer and cyclist, Rick Holzworth, says that while cyclists should use the bike lanes, we are not required by law to use them. You can read Rick's blog here.  You may also read more about Rick's practice here.   

Rick does a great job explaining Pennsylvania's “choice of ways” doctrine and how - when a person is faced with two alternate routes: one safe and one not-so-safe - that person is typically required to choose the safer route in order to avoid being charged with "contributory negligence" in failing to protect himself or herself from foreseeable harm. 

So does that mean we have to use the Bike Lanes because they're safer?  Not necessarily. 

Rick's article points out that the choice-of-ways doctrine is not construed as imposing unreasonable restrictions on travel. Instead, people have "freedom of movement" and "cyclists are not required to go out of their way to find the safest route."  Rather, Rick notes, when cyclists are presented with two options, a safe option and a risky option, they probably should choose the safe option (duh!). But that does not mean cyclists are required to use the bike lanes if a safe and alternate option exists.  


Thanks for reading.

Matthew F. Dolfi, Esquire

Dolfi Law PC
BNY Mellon Center
500 Grant Street, Suite 2900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219


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Important notice:
The information provided in this blog article is not legal advice.  The information and opinions provided herein are solely for the general interest of the visitors to this website.  The information contained herein is only applicable to general principles of law in Pennsylvania and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in various other jurisdictions.  Therefore, the information and opinions contained in this blog should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice.  No aspect of this blog article should be interpreted as establishing an attorney-client relationship between the reader and its author.  Anyone reviewing this article should not act upon any information contained herein without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.  

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