While bicycle riding is a great way to improve health, reduce one's environmental impact, and save money, it can also be a dangerous method of transportation for riders who do not know or do not follow Georgia bicycle laws.
If you sustained harm in a bicycle accident, you can benefit from legal advice and counsel. Talk to Jason R. Schultz at 404-474-0804.
What are the responsibilities of Georgia bicyclists?
To begin to understand a bicyclist's legal responsibilities, some definitions are useful. Under O.C.G.A. § 40-1-1(75), a bicycle is a "vehicle" and the person controlling it is a "driver" [O.C.G.A. §40-1-1(14)].
So as a "driver," a bicyclist must adhere to the rules of the road.
What are those rules of the road?
Some of the rules of the road relevant to bicyclists include:
- Limiting the number of riders to the number of seats [O.C.G.A. § 40-6-292 (b)]
- No grabbing onto or holding onto a vehicle while riding [O.C.G.A. § 40-6-293]
- Riders are to ride as far to the right as possible to ensure safety, unless there are hazards in that portion of the roadway, the rider is making a left turn, or if there is too narrow of a lane for the bicyclist to "share" the road. Additionally, bicyclists may only ride two abreast on paths, lanes, or roadways specifically set aside for cycling. [O.C.G.A. § 40-6-294]
- Bicyclists must always have at least one hand free for steering purposes and may not carry packages or other items which require the rider to take both hands off the handlebars. [O.C.G.A. § 40-6-295]
- Bicycles must have the following equipment to be street-legal according to O.C.G.A. § 40-6-296:
- A front light (which must be visible up to 300 feet in either direction) and rear red reflector if the rider is to operate the bike between sunset to sunrise
- Functional brakes
- Handlebars that the operator can use without having to raise his arms above shoulder level.
- Bicycle helmets are only mandatory for riders under 16 [O.C.G.A. §40-6-296(e)].
- Bicyclists must conform with all traffic signals and other control equipment [O.C.G.A. § 40-6-20].
- Bicyclists may not ride on sidewalks as those are for pedestrian travel. [O.C.G.A. § 40-6-144].
Bicyclists must also adhere to the standard behaviors implemented to protect pedestrians such as yielding to them, passing only on the left (must do so audibly such as with a bell), and so forth.
Keeping cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians safe requires each participant to know and follow the rules of the road. However, some participants do not follow those rules, often leading to tragic results.