Georgia Bicycle Safety

In Georgia, a bicycle is a “vehicle” that must obey all applicable traffic laws that apply to “vehicles”, as opposed to laws that specifically apply only to “motor vehicles.” Whether you are a cyclist or a motorist, read on to learn more about Atlanta and Georgia laws that apply specifically to bicycles, as well as some general safety tips to avoid serious or deadly bicycle accidents.

Can bicycles ride on the street or the sidewalk?

Bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks and are actually required to ride in the street. This law applies whether there is a designated bike lane in the street or not. Some municipalities make exceptions for younger cyclists. For instance, in Atlanta, children 12 years old or younger are permitted to ride their bikes on the sidewalk.

Should bicycles ride on the shoulder?

Cyclists are allowed to ride on a paved shoulder, but they are not required to and may lawfully ride in a lane of traffic, even where a paved shoulder is present.

In which direction should cyclists ride?

Bicycles should always travel in the same direction as the traffic. In other words, ride on the right-hand side of the road, just as cars do.

Can bicycles take up a whole lane of traffic?

Sometimes. Georgia law generally requires cyclists to ride as near to the right of the road as possible, which would allow a car to occupy the same lane when passing the cyclist. However, there are many circumstances when a bicycle may ride in the center of a lane and temporarily occupy that lane. These situations include:

  • The cyclist is turning left
  • In order to avoid hazards such as debris in the road, rough pavement, drain grates, or parked or stopped cars
  • When the lane is too narrow to share with a motor vehicle
  • When the cyclist is traveling at the same speed as the surrounding motor vehicle traffic
  • When passing a vehicle with due care
  • If the cyclist is riding straight through an intersection, and the right lane is a right turn-only lane

When must motorists yield to bicycles, and vice versa?

If there is a designated bicycle lane in the roadway, a motor vehicle driver must yield to a bicyclist in the bicycle lane. If there is no bicycle lane, the driver is required to leave a safe distance between the car and bike while passing the cyclist. What amounts to a “safe distance” may vary according to the given circumstances, but the driver must keep at least three feet from the bicycle in all cases. This is a common issue that our Atlanta bike accident lawyers deal with, and it often requires a thorough investigation of facts and witness testimony.

Tips for Motorists and Cyclists

Motorists – Driving with the intent to annoy, harass or obstruct a cyclist is a misdemeanor offense of aggressive driving. Driving with reckless disregard for a cyclist’s safety is a misdemeanor offense of reckless driving. You could be fined or jailed for such behavior, and also subject to civil liability for any injury you cause to a cyclist.

Cyclists – Laws against reckless driving, driving under the influence and even vehicular homicide apply to riders of bicycles as “vehicles,” although the penalties may be different from those applied to drivers of motor vehicles.

Motorists – Be aware of the presence of bicycles on the road and don’t be overly aggressive in your attempts to pass them. Don’t pass a cyclist and then immediately make a right-hand turn, as you will likely cause the cyclist to crash into you. Also, be careful not to yield the right-of-way to a cyclist when you have the right-of-way. Traffic accidents can best be avoided when motorists and cyclists alike obey the rules of the road and take the right-of-way when it belongs to them.

Cyclists – Ride visibly and predictably. Use appropriate hand signals and constantly scan the road for potential sudden vehicular maneuvers which could cause an accident.

Help is Available for Georgia Bicycle Accidents

The attorneys at Katz Personal Injury Lawyers understand the dangers you face everyday as a cyclist, and we know that all the care in the world may not be able to keep you safe from a negligent or aggressive driver. If you have been injured in a Georgia bicycle accident, please call our office in Atlanta at 404-460-0101 or 888-426-2100 to speak with a lawyer about obtaining compensation for your injuries and expenses.

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