- Bicyclists must follow the same overall responsibilities as other drivers, as well as rules specific to bikes when using roadways.
- If a bicyclist is found at fault for an accident, then it can result in financial burdens, like fines or legal liability, for injuries and property damage.
- Law enforcement officers may pull bicyclists over and inspect bikes for proper equipment and maintenance issues.
- Riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs is punishable by law.
Being Negligent and Causing an Accident Can Reduce Compensation
Just as car and truck drivers must follow the laws of the road, bicyclists must, as well. If a bicyclist is found to have caused an accident, they may be held liable. Not only can they be fined and held financially responsible for damage or injury caused to others, but their chances of collecting compensation from insurance for their own damages and injuries may be reduced, as well.
If a bicyclist is at fault for an accident, it may be wise to retain a lawyer to minimize the potential financial impacts.
Bicyclists Can and Do Make Mistakes on the Road
We tend to think that because a car is bigger and more powerful than a bicycle that the car must somehow be at fault for accidents and injuries. However, this is not always the case.
In Georgia, bicyclists have the same responsibilities as other drivers. They must comply with traffic laws as well as rules that apply to bicycles specifically.
Important Bicycle Laws All Cyclists Should Know
- Bicyclists are required to ride as close to the right-hand side of the roadway as possible. This rule does not apply when the bicycle is overtaking vehicles, turning, avoiding hazards, or when riding in a substandard width lane.
- Bicyclists must ride in the same direction as the flow of traffic at all times, even when riding in bike lanes.
- Bike lanes in Georgia are exclusively for the use of bicyclists. However, bicyclists are generally not required to use them unless a local ordinance requires it.
- Motor vehicle drivers must yield to bicyclists within a bike lane on the roadway.
- Bicycles should pass on the left of other vehicles. Passing on the right is only permitted if conditions allow it to be done safely, without leaving the roadway.
- Bicyclists over the age of 12 are not legally permitted to ride on sidewalks unless a local ordinance allows it. Check local laws for variations on this rule.
- No more than two bicycles can ride abreast except on paths or roadway lanes exclusively for bicycles.
- Georgia DUI laws apply to people riding bikes. Therefore, it is illegal to ride a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, the penalties may differ from those operating a motor vehicle.
- Bicyclists must slow down and come to a complete stop at stop signs and red traffic lights.
- Bicyclists must use hand signals when turning or coming to a stop.
- Bicyclists under the age of 16 are required to wear a properly fastened helmet.
- When riding at night, a bicycle must be equipped with a white front headlight and red rear light or reflector, which is visible from 300 feet away. A uniformed officer may stop and inspect a bicycle’s equipment if it appears unsafe or not equipped as required by law.
- Every bicycle must have working brakes that allow the rider to skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
Watching Out for Cars
Georgia requires bicyclists to be aware of all other vehicles using the road and to ride in a way that prevents collisions. However, cars must also look out for bikes and allow a safe distance of at least three feet of clearance when passing them.
It is strictly forbidden for bicycle riders to hold on to or be pulled by other motor vehicles.
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Malfunctioning Bicycle Parts and Equipment
Properly maintained equipment is an important part of bicycle safety. Unfortunately, most bicycles don’t have a “check engine light” or “service due” warning. This means it’s up to the rider to ensure the tires, chain, breaks, and other parts of the bicycle are all checked frequently to avoid malfunctions that can cause an accident.
Bicycle tires are not designed to withstand road hazards like car and truck tires. A bit of glass, a stray nail, or a sharp rock can cause a bike tire to blow. This, in turn, could throw the bike and its rider into the path of oncoming vehicles. It’s easy to imagine how such circumstances could cause a deadly chain of events. Therefore, it’s imperative to monitor your equipment carefully.
Biking Around Other Vehicles
Just as car and truck drivers can easily become distracted, bicyclists can as well. When cyclists are near other vehicles, they are responsible for avoiding collisions with moving or even parked cars.