- Last Updated: Monday, 13 November 2017 16:18
- Written by Elliott Caldwell
The choice to ride a bicycle is being made by more and more people across the state of Georgia. People are riding for a multitude of reasons: daily commuting and transportation, health and wellness, recreation and tourism, as well as to be social with their friend, neighbors, and community. Many of these riders are coming back after a long time off a bicycle and others are first-timers.
With these parameters, the need for bicycle education is important for both those on bicycles and those driving. Roadway safety is an evergreen topic! A few commonly unknown or misunderstood laws are described below.
On way to center bicycling is to recognize that “Bicycles are vehicles and have the same rights and responsibilities on public roads as motor vehicles” [40-1-1(15, 75)].
This changed since many of us were children on bicycles. “Bicycles must travel in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic, even when in a designated bike lane” [40-6-294(f)].
As things go, cycling is social, “Bicyclists may lawfully ride two-abreast” [40-6-294].
When it comes to use of bike lanes, “Bicycle lanes are set aside for preferential use by bicyclists. Bicyclists are not required to ride in a bike lane just because it exists. In general, use a bike lane when it is safe and convenient to do so based on your destination.”
For motorized vehicles drivers (cars, trucks, transport trucks, etc.) there are several that maybe unfamiliar to you as they address how to drive with a bicycle present on the road. “Obstructing a bike lane or multi-use path is a misdemeanor [16-11-43]. Working in conjunction, “aggressive driving is considered a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature in Georgia.” When passing a person on a bicycle, there is a right and wrong way to pass. “The operator of a motor vehicle, when overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, shall leave a safe distance between such vehicle and the bicycle and shall maintain such clearance until safely passed the overtaken bicycle. The term ‘safe distance; means not less than three feet” [40-6-56]. To achieve distance of three feet, “cars may cross a solid yellow centerline to pass a cyclist if the oncoming lane is clear and it is safe to pass” [40-6-46(c)].
And finally, cyclists who violate traffic laws will be subject to the same penalties as drivers of motor vehicles, except that no penalty shall be assessed against a cyclist’s motor vehicle driver’s license.