Georgia Bicycle Laws That Drivers & Cyclists Need to Know
It is vital for both cyclists and motorists to have a keen understanding of Georgia bicycle laws, such as where bicyclists can ride, the legally acceptable way to signal stops and turns, and whether or not a rider needs to wear certain safety equipment. Failure to adhere to a codified law can cause not only accidents and injuries, but can also result in both criminal and civil liability.
The following details some of the most important Georgia bicycle laws.
Legal Status of a Cyclist [O.C.G.A. § 40-1-1(6]:
Georgia laws consider a bicyclist a “driver” for purposes of roadway regulation. Accordingly, a cyclist has all the same rights and responsibilities of a motorist; however, there is no requirement to obtain a license to operate a bicycle in Georgia.
Where to Ride [O.C.G.A. § 40-6-294]:
Bicyclists must ride as close to the right side of the outside lane as possible. Further, Georgia law does not permit groups riding together to ride wider than two abreast, except in a designated bicycle area.
There are several sections addressing the use of safety equipment, including mandatory white and red reflectors [O.C.G.A. § 40-6-296], bicycle helmets (for riders under age 16) [O.C.G.A. § 40-6-296(e)], and operable handlebars and brakes.
Obedience of Traffic Control Devices [O.C.G.A. § 40-6-20]:
Cyclists must obey all traffic control devices as if operating a motor vehicle. This includes stoplights, stop signs, railroad crossings, etc.
Signaling Stops or Turns[O.C.G.A. §§ 40-6-124, 40-6-125]:
A bicyclist is required to notify surrounding motorists of the intent to turn or stop using mandatory hand signals.
Carrying Items[O.C.G.A. § 40-6-295]:
A cyclist must not carry anything that makes it impossible to keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times. It is also not advisable to text or talk on the phone while you bike as it both takes your hands off the handlebars and distracts you.
Aggressive [O.C.G.A. § 40-6-397] or Reckless Driving [O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390]:
The laws pertaining to aggressive (i.e., “road rage”) or reckless driving apply equally to drivers and bicyclists. Likewise, Georgia law prohibits drivers and bicyclists from operating a bicycle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Violation of the law can affect a bicyclist’s and/or driver’s liability if a motor vehicle strikes a bicyclist. Drivers may be liable for violating the rules of the road or failing to respect a bicyclist’s right to the road; bicyclists may be at least partially liable if they fail to abide by Georgia’s bicycle laws.
Violating Georgia Bicycle Laws Increases Your Accident Risk
Not following Georgia bicycle laws can be very dangerous. According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, motorists are two to four times more likely to hit cyclists traveling on the wrong side (e.g., left side) of the roadway – particularly as a motorist turns from a side street, because she will not expect traffic to be traveling in the wrong direction.
In addition, five percent of all nighttime bicycle crashes result in the death of the cyclist, as compared to just one percent of all crashes occurring during the day – so do not forget to use those reflectors!
Contact John Morrison if You Are in a Bicycle Accident
For more information about bicycle safety, contact attorney John Morrison at 770-951-8900.