Georgia Bicycle Accidents: Information and Prevention

The attorneys at the Scholle Law Firm discuss Georgia bicycle accidents in this Scholle Law website article. The content includes many, if not all of the relevant Georgia laws pertaining to bicycles. In handling Georgia bicycle accidents, the law firm regularly applies these laws to the facts of the Georgia bicycle accidents the firm analyzes. The purpose of this content on Georgia bicycle accidents is to stress the need for everyone on Georgia’s roads to always follow these laws. Please drive and ride safely and contact our attorneys if you have any questions.

Georgia Bicycle Accidents Happen All Too Often

In the beginning of the calendar year, many people begin work on their New Year’s resolutions. Many such resolutions relate to exercise. This year people of all ages will use bicycles as their main cardio activity. Unfortunately, statistics show that every year numerous Georgia bicycle accidents occur, some resulting in fatalities. There is no better time to discuss Georgia bicycle accidents and the laws in place to keep riders safe. This important information helps explain your rights as well as your duties relating to safely operating a bicycle in Georgia.

Follow Georgia Law to Prevent Georgia Bicycle Accidents

There are two reasons people ride their bicycles. Some enjoy riding bicycles with friends on a routine basis for exercise and entertainment. Others use their bicycles as form of transportation. There are individuals against who do not agree that people should be able to ride their bikes on the roadways.  However, Georgia law provides that bicycles have the right to use the their bikes on the roads.  It is important to understand Georgia law regarding bicyclists and bicycles if you are going to be operating a bicycle on the roadway. It is also good reminder for cars and trucks to remember they must share the road.

According to Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety bicycles are legally classified as a vehicle in Georgia.  “This classification means that general vehicular traffic law applies to the operation of a bicycle.  The vehicle code and various regulations include many specific qualifications for specific classes of vehicles.”  In Georgia a bicycle is considered a “vehicle”, therefore, operating a bicycle gives you rights, but you also have the requirements and responsibilities of a vehicle operator.  You are allowed to use the roads but you are also required to obey the traffic law.   

Definitions of a Bicycle, a Bicycle Path, and a Bicycle Lane

A bicycle is described as a device propelled by human power upon which any person may ride, having only two wheels.  

A bicycle lane is a marked lane on the roadway intended for the primary use of the operation of bicycles. A bicyclist is not required to use the bicycle lane. 

A bicycle path is separated from the roadway and may or may not be for the exclusive use of bicycles. 

Bicycle Safety Checklist

Periodically you should check your bicycle for safety reasons.  You should check your wheels, tires, brakes, spokes, chain, pedals, seat, handlebars, frame, and lights.

Georgia Law in Layman’s Terms

  1. Individuals over the age of 12 are not allowed to ride bicycles on the sidewalk.
  2. Bicycles are to travel in the same direction as the flow of traffic.   
  3. Bicyclist should use proper hand signals when making a turn or stopping.
  4. Bicyclists should stop completely at traffic signs and for red traffic lights. 
  5. Bicyclists should follow the rules of the road, such as yielding the right of way when making a left turn. 
  6. You should not ride a bicycle with more than two abreast and should stay as far to the right as possible. 
  7. Do not carry any package that prevents you from using at least one hand on the handlebar. 
  8. You should not transport another person on your handlebars.  Don’t transport any passengers on your bicycle. 
  9. Do not transport a child under the age of one year old unless using a bicycle trailer specifically manufactured for this type of transportation.   
  10. Every person operating a bicycle shall have a white light in the front that is visible 300 feet to the front and a red light in the back, also visible 300 feet to the rear. 
  11. Every person under the age of 16 must wear a bicycle helmet that fits well and passes safety standards.           
  12. When a motor vehicle is overtaking and passing a bicycle that is going in the same direction, the vehicle operator must leave a safe distance.  According to Georgia law 40-6-56 – a safe distance is not less than three feet.
  13. You should never attach yourself to a vehicle while riding a bicycle.
  14. Every bicycle should have operational brakes. 
  15. You should not practice aggressive driving or reckless driving when operating your bicycle.
  16. Georgia’s DUI statute applies to people operating a bicycle, but the penalties for DUI do not apply to operators of bicycles. 

Excerpts of Georgia Traffic Law related to bicycle operation: 

Wherever the code or regulation uses the phrase “vehicle” that section applies to all vehicles, including bicycles.  When the term “motor vehicle” is used, that portion does not apply to bicycles.”

“The following excerpts are those subsections of The Traffic Law that Deal Specifically with Bicycle Operation:     

40-6-290.

The provisions of this part applicable to bicycles shall apply whenever a bicycle is operated upon a highway or any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, subject to those exceptions states in this part.

40-6-291.

The provision of this chapter that applies to vehicles, but not exclusively to motor vehicles, shall apply to bicycles, except that the penalties prescribed in subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-390, subsection (c) of Code Section 40-6-391, and subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-393 shall not apply to persons riding bicycles.

40-6-292.

(a)        A person propelling a bicycle shall not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto and shall allow no person to ride upon the handlebars.

(b)        No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.

  • No person shall transport a child under the age of one year as a passenger on a bicycle on a highway, roadway, bicycle path, bicycle lane, or sidewalk; provided, however, that a child under the age of one year may be transported on a bicycle trailer or in an infant sling so long as such child is seated in the bicycle trailer or carried in an infant sling according to the bicycle trailer’s or infant sling’s

manufacturer’s instructions and the bicycle trailer is properly affixed to the bicycle according to the bicycle trailer’s manufacturer’s instructions or the infant sling is properly worn by the rider of the bicycle according to the infant sling’s manufacturer’s instructions.

40-6-293.

No person riding upon any bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled, or toy vehicle shall attach the same or himself to any vehicle upon a roadway.

40-6-294.

(a)        Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, except when turning left or avoiding hazards to safe cycling, when the lane is too narrow to share safely with a motor vehicle, when traveling at the same speed as traffic, or while exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction; provided, however, that every person operating a bicycle away from the right side of the roadway shall exercise reasonable care and shall give due consideration to the other applicable rules of the road.

(c)        Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on bicycle paths, bicycle lanes, or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, or when a special event permit issued by a local governing authority permits riding more than two abreast.

(e)        Electric assisted bicycles are defined in Code Section 40-1-1 may be operated on bicycle paths.

40-6-295.

No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle, or other article which prevents him from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.

40-6-296.

(a)        Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a light on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the front and with a light on the back which shall emit a red light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear.  Any bicycle equipped with a red reflector on the rear that is approved by the Department of Public Safety shall not be required to have a light on the rear of the bicycle.

(b)       Every bicycle sold or operated shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level pavement.

  • No bicycle shall be equipped or operated while equipped with a set of handlebars so raised that the operator must elevate his or her hands above his shoulders in order to grasp the normal steering grip area.

(e) (1) No person under the age of 16 years shall operate or be a passenger on a bicycle on a highway, bicycle path, bicycle lane, or sidewalk under the jurisdiction or control of this state or any local political subdivision thereof without wearing a bicycle helmet.

  • For the purposes of this subsection, the term “bicycle helmet” means a piece of protective headgear which meets or exceeds the impact standards for bicycle helmets set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
  • For the purposes of this subsection, a person shall be deemed to wear a bicycle helmet only if a bicycle helmet of good fit is fastened securely upon the such person’s head with the straps of the such bicycle helmet.
  • No bicycle without an accompanying protective bicycle helmet shall be rented or leased to or for the use of any person under the age of 16 years unless that person is in possession of a bicycle helmet at the time of the rental or lease.
  • Violation of any provision of this subsection shall not constitute negligence per se not contributory negligence per se or be considered evidence of negligence or liability.
  • No person under the age of 16 failing to comply with any provision of this subsection may shall be fined or imprisoned. 

40-6-298.

(a)        It is a misdemeanor for any person to do any act forbidden or fail to perform any act required in this part.

(b)       The parent of any child and the guardian of any ward shall not authorize or knowingly permit such child or ward to violate any of the provisions of this part.

40-6-299.

The Board of Public Safety is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations to carry this part into effect and is authorized to establish regulations for any additional safety equipment or standards it shall require for bicycles.”

According to Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, there are Additional Laws Relevant to Cyclists:

Riding on sidewalks

40-6-144.-Except as provided by resolution or ordinance of a local government for sidewalk’s within the jurisdiction of such local government authorizing the operation of bicycles on sidewalks by persons 12 years of age or younger, no person shall drive any vehicle upon a sidewalk or sidewalk area except upon a permanent or duly authorized driveway.

40-6-290.-The provisions of this part applicable to bicycles shall apply whenever a bicycle is operated upon a highway or upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, subject to those exceptions stated in this part.

40-6-291.-The provisions of this chapter that apply to vehicles, but not exclusively to motor vehicles, shall apply to bicycles, except that the penalties prescribed in subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-390, subsection (c) of Code Section 40-6-391, and subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-393 shall not apply to persons riding bicycles.

40-6-397. Aggressive Driving

(a)        A person commits the offense of aggressive driving when he or she operates any motor vehicle with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person, including without limitation violating Code Section 40-6-42, 40-6-48, 40-6-49, 40-6-123, 40-6-184, 40-6-312, or 40-6-390 with such intent.

(b)        Any person convicted of aggressive driving shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.

40-6-390. Reckless Driving

(a)        Any person who drives any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property commits the offense of reckless driving.

(b)       Every person convicted of reckless driving shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

16-11-43. Obstructing Highways, Streets, Sidewalks, or Other Public Passages

A person who, without authority of law, purposely or recklessly obstructs any highway, street, sidewalk, or other public passage in such a way as to render it impassable without unreasonable inconvenience or hazard and fails or refuses to remove the obstruction after receiving a reasonable official request or the order of a peace officer that he do so, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

40-6-77. Penalties for causing serious injury due to right of way violation resulting in collision with motorcyclist, pedestrian, bicyclist, or farmer transporting vehicles hauling agricultural products, livestock, farm machinery, or farm products.

(a)        For purposes of this Code section, “serious injury” shall include, but shall not be limited to causing bodily injury harm to another by depriving him or her of a member of his, or her body, by rendering a member of his or her body useless, by seriously disfiguring his or her head or body or a member thereof, or by causing organic brain damage which renders the body or any member thereof useless.

(b)       Any person who causes a serious injury to another person as a result of a collision with a motorcyclist, bicyclist, pedestrian, or farmer operating any vehicle used to transport agricultural products, livestock, farm machinery, or farm supplies by committing any right of way violation under this chapter when such motorcyclist, bicyclist, pedestrian, or farmer operating any vehicle used to transport agricultural products, livestock, farm machinery, or farm supplies is abiding by the provisions of this title shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished. “

Georgia Code:

4-6-91. Right of Way in Crosswalks:

a)         The driver of a vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching and is within one lane of the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning.

b)         No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impractical for the driver to yield.

c)         Subsection (a) of this Code section shall not apply under the conditions stated in subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-92.

  • Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.

40-6-92. Crossing roadway elsewhere than at crosswalk:

a)         Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than waiting within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway unless he has already and under safe conditions, entered the roadway.

b)         Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian

crossing has been provided shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway if he uses the roadway instead of such tunnel or crossing.

c)         Between adjacent intersections at which traffic control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.

d)         No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic-control devices.  When authorized to cross diagonally, pedestrians shall cross only in accordance with the official traffic-control devices pertaining to such crossing movements.

40-6-22. Pedestrian control signals

Whenever special pedestrian-control signals exhibiting the words WALK or DON’T WALK or symbols so directing a pedestrian are in place, such signals shall indicate as follows:

1)         Word or symbol message WALK -Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal. Every driver of a vehicle shall stop and remain stopped for such pedestrians; 

2)         Flashing or steady DON’T WALK – No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such a signal, but any pedestrian who has partially completed his crossing on the WALK signal shall proceed to sidewalk or safety island while the DON’T WALK signal is showing.

40-1-1. (57) Definition of a Sidewalk:

“Sidewalk” means that portion of a street between the curb lines, or the lateral lines of a railway, and the adjacent property lines, intended for use by pedestrians.

40-1-1. (22) Definition of an Intersection:

“Intersection” means

A)        the area embraced within the prolongation or connection of the lateral curb lines, or, if none, then the lateral boundary lines of the roadways of two highways which join one another at, or approximately at, right angles, or the area within which vehicles traveling upon different highways joining at any other angle may come in conflict.

B)        Where a highway includes two roadways 30 feet or more apart, then every crossing of each roadway of such divided highway by an intersection highway shall be regarded as a separate intersection.  In the event such intersecting highway also includes two roadways 30 feet or more apart, then every crossing of two roadways of such highways shall be regarded as a separate intersection.

C)        The junction of an alley with a street or highway shall not constitute an intersection.

40-6-203. Stopping or parking a vehicle prohibited:

a)         Except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic, or in compliance with law or the direction of a police officer or official traffic-control device, no person shall:

  • Stop, stand, or park a vehicle:

 (A)      On the roadway side of any vehicle stopped or parked at the edge of a curb of a street;

 (B)      On a sidewalk;

  • Within an intersection;

 (D)      On a crosswalk;

(2)       Stand or park a vehicle, whether occupied or not, except momentarily to pick up or discharge a passenger or passengers:

 (A)      In front of a public or private driveway

 (B)      Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant;

 (C)       Within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection

 (D)      Within 30 feet upon the approach to any flashing signal, stop signal, yield sign, or traffic-control signal located at the side of a roadway.

40-6-144. Emerging from alley, driveway, or building:

The driver of a vehicle emerging from an alley, building, private road, or driveway within a business or residential district shall stop such vehicle immediately prior to driving onto a sidewalk or onto the sidewalk area extending across such alley, building entrance, road, or driveway or, in the even there is no sidewalk area, shall stop at the point nearest the street to be entered where the driver has a view of approaching traffic thereon.  The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian on a sidewalk.  No person shall drive any vehicle upon a sidewalk or sidewalk area except upon a permanent or duly authorized driveway.

Georgia Bicycle Accidents Result in Serious Injuries!

Riding a bicycle on the roadway puts you in a vulnerable position due to the physicality of your not having any protection, other than a helmet.  A vehicle striking a person on a bicycle will cause serious physical injuries, or even fatalities. Again, many Georgia bicycle accidents result in serious and even catastrophic injuries.

Scholle Law’s attorneys have handled many Georgia bicycle accidents for people that have suffered serious injuries while operating a bicycle.  We have the experience to help you build your case and to ensure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries.  If you or a loved one have been in a car vs bicyclist accident, contact our firm as soon as possible.    

At Scholle Law, we offer free consultations for people looking for help with their Georgia bicycle accidents and injury cases. Calling our office results in an opportunity to schedule a meeting with one of our experienced injury attorneys. During the case evaluation we encourage you to ask as many questions as necessary. Our client first philosophy includes hearing your concerns. We know what it is like to navigate difficult accident and injury cases and we want you to know that our law firm is here to help. Call or contact us today!

To set up a meeting, call us today at (678) 921-3320 or contact us online.