PA: Pedalcycles and Mopeds; Know the rules!!

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PA: Pedalcycles and Mopeds; Know the rules!!

Postby Micronaut » Sat May 06, 2006 7:13 pm

Ready to ride? Know the rules
By: MARK D. MAROTTA, Staff Writer
04/17/2006
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http://www.thereporteronline.com/site/n ... 6404&rfi=6

According to a Highway Transportation Safety Administration report, 725 pedalcyclists were killed and 41,000 were injured in traffic crashes in 2004.
A "pedalcycle is a vehicle powered solely by human power," said Montgomery Township police Officer David Dunlap.
Statistics compiled by the state Bureau of Highway Safety and Traffic Engineering show that 13 bicyclists were killed and 1,384 were injured on Pennsylvania roadways in 2004.
For Montgomery County, those numbers were six and 92, respectively.
Writing by e-mail, New Britain Township resident Ed Hein, who leads and coordinates rides for the Horsham-based Suburban Cyclists Unlimited club, said there are reasons why bicycling has become both more and less dangerous.
On the one hand, Hein said, more riders are better educated about and promote safety awareness.
He added that "more drivers are also on the road with bigger vehicles."
Hein said a growing number of drivers are distracted from the road because they are on cell phones, or are eating or smoking.
But, he wrote, "cars are not the biggest danger. Riders are just as likely to hit another bike as a car."
According to Hein, 50 percent of all bike accidents are falls involving one rider. He suggested that riders should take safety classes and practice emergency maneuvers.
Hein said he offers one such class each spring at the College Settlement Camp in Horsham.
He added that listings for classes nationwide are available at www.bikeleague.org/cogs/programs/educat ... e_schedule. According to Hein, the closest one is in Lancaster on April 18, 22 and 29.
Walt Spadt, owner of Adventure Bicycle Co. in Hatfield Township, said he has found that, in almost all cases, cyclists are to blame for their accidents because they are doing things such as riding on the wrong side of the street.
Cyclists should always follow the same rules they would if driving a car, Spadt said. He added that young bikers need to know what those rules are.
Spadt said those not of the age to know how to ride on the road should stay on the sidewalk, but travel at no more than 4 miles per hour. He explained that drivers tend to be looking only for pedestrians on sidewalks.
The NHTSA report noted that people over the age of 25 are making up an increasing share of pedalcyclist fatalities.
In 2004, the average age of fatalities was 38.7 years, compared to 28.9 years 10 years earlier. Cyclists under 16 made up 21 percent of fatalities in 2004, down from 37 percent in 1994.
Lansdale police Sgt. Dean Miller said the increased share of accidents involving older cyclists may reflect recognition of health benefits from biking. There are still plenty of young people on bicycles, he added.
"We do see kids riding bikes a lot," said Officer William Peoples, of the Montgomery Township police. He added that there are relatively low level of commuter bicycle traffic in the municipality.
Peoples said the township police hold a bike rodeo once a year to teach safety and build skills.
He added that the police also have other bicycle education programs. One such event will take place at Montgomery Mall on May 19 and 20, as part of Police Week.
According to Miller, every person on a pedalcycle has all the rights and duties that apply to motor vehicles, with some exceptions.
Among the rules to keep in mind, Miller said, bicycles must be operated in the same direction as traffic, and riders should be no more than two abreast.
According to Peoples, a bicycle operated between sunset and sunrise needs a front lamp emitting white light visible from at least 500 feet away; a rear red reflector; and amber reflectors on each side.
Spadt said he does not recommend riding at night.
Under state law, Peoples said, a helmet is required for bicycle riders under the age of 12. That requirement also applies to a toddler carried in a trailer towed by a bicycle, he added.
Riders "should always wear a helmet," Spadt said.
Peoples explained that a motorized pedalcycle, or moped, is equipped with operable pedals and an engine not exceeding 1.5 brake horsepower.
According to Claudine Battisti, spokeswoman for the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles, mopeds are required to be registered, but are exempt from state inspection. Additionally, Peoples said, an operator must have a license, and therefore must be at least 16 years old.
Moped users complying with licensing and registration requirements may travel on roadways, but must comply with traffic laws, he added. An operator of a moped traveling slower than the flow of traffic must stay "as close as you can to the shoulder," Peoples said.
According to Battisti, mopeds are not allowed on roads with a posted minimum speed. Nor are they permitted on sidewalks, Peoples said.
Motor-driven cycles, including motor scooters, have engines not exceeding 5 brake horsepower, Peoples said. Operators are required to have a license, and the vehicle must be registered and inspected. Helmets must be worn unless certain exemptions apply.
Motorized scooters do not meet equipment safety standards and are not allowed on public streets, Battisti said.
Staff Writer Mark D. Marotta can be reached at (215) 361-8827;
mmarotta@thereporteronline.com
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Micronaut
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