Georgia Attorney: As Popularity Of Bicycling Increases So Must Driver Awareness
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the number of people using bicycles to commute to work has risen significantly since 2000. The last United States census confirms that trend as well. As community consciousness grows about air pollution, noise pollution, and traffic congestion, many people are taking to the roads on bicycles. The League of America Bicyclists ranks Georiga right in the middle of the nation in terms of how bicycle-friendly the state may be. Georgia ranks 25th in the nation with nine bicycle-friendly communities, 15 bicycle-friendly businesses, and five bicycle-friendly colleges.
The Georgia legislature recognized the need to improve bicycle safety. Accordingly, the legislature commenced a campaign to increase bicycle safety in the state. The legislature designed the campaign to alert motorists of their responsibility when driving near bicycles as well as bicyclists' obligations when riding on a public street.
The following is a list of tips and recommendations to remember when driving near cyclists:
- A bicycle is to be treated like a motor vehicle under Georgia law. The bicyclist enjoys the same rights to the road as a motor vehicle. Additionally, bicyclists must abide by the same rules of the road as motorists. Therefore, bicyclists must stop at stop signs, signal when turning, and ride on the right side of the road, in addition to following the other rules of the road.
- Unless the rider is 12 years or younger, they are not permitted to ride on a sidewalk. Even when the road is narrow and provides some difficulty passing a cyclist, the rider must ride on the road surface.
- To further protect bicycle riders, Georgia passed a law mandating that the operator of a motor vehicle leave three (3) feet between the vehicle and cyclist when passing. The legislature recognized that passing too closely to a rider can cause the rider to crash, leading to serious personal injuries or death.
- Bicycle riders in bike lanes enjoy the same privileges and rights of way as pedestrians. Drivers must yield to riders in those lanes and may never park in a bike lane. Moreover, a bike lane should never be used to pass another motor vehicle.
- Drivers must recognize that they must be careful when turning. Bicyclists have the right of way and must be allowed to proceed before turning the car. The Georgia legislature attributes failing to yield while turning to be the primary cause of bicycle crashes in the state. The legislature cautions motorists to make sure to look to the right when turning right to be certain an intersection is free from approaching bikes. The legislature also recommends waiting before turning left in front of an oncoming cyclist.
- Drivers are reminded to look for cyclists, especially in low-light conditions. Bicyclists should don reflective clothing and use an attention attracting device such a headlamp or strobe-light designed for cycling.
What Should You Do If You Or A Loved One Was Injured In A Bicycle Accident With A Motorist?
Notify law enforcement of the collision and seek medical attention. It is better to be safe than sorry. Even a low-speed collision can cause injuries, especially if the rider fell off the bike, even if wearing a helmet. Law enforcement officers will normally collect the driver's information, such as name, residential address, and insurance carrier information.
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