UPDATE on HB689 – Public Mtg Oct. 7 in Gainesville

PUBLIC MEETING: State Representative Carl Rogers, one of the sponsors of HB 689, has requested the use of the Hall County Commission meeting Room on Monday, October 7 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. for a hearing on the bill. 

This room is located in the Hall County Government Building located at 2875 Browns Bridge Rd. Gainesville,GA 30504.

The meeting will be open to the public to discuss complaints and concerns from both motorists and cyclists regarding road usage that he and other representatives are fielding on a regular basis.

Please Note: We believe there is essentially no chance this bill will become the law, and we have zero indication it will even come up for a vote in the House. That said, we will keep a close watch on the bill in case it does move forward. We’ll also share an official call-to-action if that happens. To support our lobbying efforts at the Gold Dome to stop this bill – and future anti-cycling legislation – please become a member!

Meanwhile, below is a quick summary of questions that point to why this bill goes against all common sense and would make Georgia the most anti-bicycling state in the nation:

Where does a tag and license requirement stop? Do children have to get a tag to ride their bike around the neighborhood or to school? What if you own multiple bicycles? Do we tag and tax mountain bikes? Do we also tax and require registration for pedestrians?

The reason we tax, register, and require licenses for motorists is because cars are inherently dangerous and create negative externalities and social impacts (congestion, sprawl, physical inactivity, air pollution, crashes, fatalities, road wear & tear, etc, etc). A bicycle does none of these things, and in fact is a common sense solution to many of these problems. Why would we create legislation that discourages and penalizes a healthy, fun, affordable, and sensible form of transportation and recreation?

What about the person that depends on a bicycle as transportation because of economic reasons? This would present an unfair burden on low-income Georgians who are already underserved by streets and roads designed only for automobiles in many areas.

What about the economic impact of this bill? Would the fees even cover the administration of the tags? Would out-of-state visitors to north GA’s mountains, the Golden Isles, the Silver Comet or the Atlanta BeltLine have to register and obtain a license? How would this impact bicycle tour companies across the state? How would this affect the hundreds of charity bicycle events across GA?

Lastly, since the bill’s sponsors mention “safety” as their motivation, exactly what safety need is being met through this legislation? It looks like the purpose of the bill is to allow motorists to drive as quickly as possible and prioritizes eliminating a moment’s delay or “inconvenience” over another person’s fundamental safety.

This legislation is bad. Unacceptably bad. It is poorly conceived and represents an unnecessary expansion of government that would penalize hundreds of thousands of law abiding citizens and visitors who are engaging in a simple, healthy activity. Laws already exist to regulate motorist and bicyclist behavior on the public roads. If anything, Georgia needs laws that increase protection and access for people on bikes.

This bill is a huge step backwards and represents a misguided effort to further marginalize lawful road users. What’s more, it wouldn’t even achieve its own implicit goals of increasing motorist convenience, as demonstrated by these images created by Wayne Whitesides. To safely pass even a lone person on a bike with at least three feet of clearance – as the law requires – you have to move into the oncoming travel lane. Restricting group size and requiring arbitrary gap lengths does nothing to make it easier to pass. In fact, it stretches cyclists out and increases the distance a motorist must travel in the oncoming lane! If it’s not safe to pass, don’t pass. Someone’s life is at stake.

The real issue here is that too many of our roads are designed only for cars, yet our roads are public rights-of-way that should be open and accessible to all users, including pedestrians and people on bikes. Let’s focus on that problem, a real problem, and not on how we can diminish Georgians’ rights and decrease the safety and quality of life of our communities.