Cyclists do not benefit from any national traffic laws. Instead, each state sets up its own bicycle-specific regulations. In Georgia, cyclists are protected by a number of laws including a passing law.
In Georgia, as in most other U.S. states, a bicycle is defined as a vehicle. The rider enjoys the same rights as other road users and also is obliged to follow the rules.
The “vehicle” classification means that general traffic laws apply to bicycles and the operation of a bicycle. So, for example, riders have to travel in the same direction as traffic and have lights at night.
If cyclists walk their bikes on the sidewalk they are classified as pedestrians and must follow the same rules and regulations.
In 2012, Georgia signed House Bill 101 which gave greater protection to cyclists. It required that passing motorists give bicyclists at least a three-foot buffer. HB 101 was intended to protect recreational riders and their child passengers.
Cars and trucks failing to give cyclists enough space is one of the most common causes of cycling accidents in Georgia.
While the law helped meet the demands of the cycling lobby, it’s important that bicyclists follow some basic rules on the highways of the state.
The Importance of Georgia’s Passing Law
The Department of Transportation as well as the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety offers bicycle maintenance checklists, maps of bike paths and safe routes and instructions on how you should wear your helmet.
In most states, including Georgia, local governments may make their own provisions that do not conflict with state code, allowing for local regulations. Different cities and counties often have conflicting codes relating to cycling on the sidewalk. You should look at signs to see if it’s allowed.
Despite the existence of laws intended to give greater protection to cyclists, riders are injured with an alarming regularity in the state. In 2015, Fox News carried a report suggesting cycling accidents were spiking in Georgia.
The story quoted a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association that pointed to a spike in injuries and fatal accidents to riders 45 and older.
Researchers discovered a 28 percent rise in bicycle accident injuries in the 15 years from 1998 to 2013, and a 120 percent increase in accidents involving serious injuries that required hospitalization.
If you have been hurt while riding your bicycle due to the fault of another driver, please call the Office of Michael West here at (404) 913-1529.