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Vehicles must allow buffer space when passing cyclists

With spring on its way, there are soon likely to be more bicycles on the road, which could mean an increase in bicycle accidents, too. Drivers aren't always happy about having to share the road with bicycles. But there are laws in place to help protect bicyclists from passing cars. 

In Pennsylvania, drivers are required to leave four feet of space between themselves and bicyclists who are riding in the same direction. Sometimes this means that a driver must stay behind a cyclist until there is an opportunity to pass. By law, drivers are allowed to cross the center line of two-way roads to pass a cyclist if there is no oncoming traffic. 

Bicyclists, similarly, are required by law to ride as closely to the right-hand curb as they can. But hugging the curb isn't always possible for several reasons. First of all, cyclists often have to steer around potholes, sand or other obstacles in the street. Cyclists making left-hand turns also obviously need to move away from the right curb. And when there is a bike lane to the left of parked cars, sometimes bikers ride as far left in the lane as they can to avoid being doored by drivers exiting their cars. 

Pennsylvania's four-foot buffer law is more stringent than that of many other states, which typically require three feet of space between passing cars and bicyclists. The intent in either case is to provide cyclists with a measure of safety while increasing driver awareness of bicyclists who are sharing the road. Ultimately however, laws alone can't provide total protection against driver negligence and bicycle accidents. Bicyclists who are seriously injured in collisions with cars can get help accessing the compensation they need to pay for medical bills and other expenses by working with a personal injury lawyer. 

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