Plenty of people in Georgia enjoy riding their bicycles, whether for recreational purposes or as their regular mode of transportation. However, it is important for both drivers and bicycle riders to understand there are laws in place for the safe operation of bicycles on the roadway. Here, we want to discuss what laws Georgia has concerning bicyclists, and whether or not riders are required to wear helmets.
Bicycle laws in Georgia
Most Georgia bicycle laws are found in Chapter 6, Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. However, it is important to understand that local jurisdictions (counties and municipalities) may also have their own ordinances in place governing bicycle operation, so please research your specific locality’s laws.
In general, a bicycle is considered a “vehicle” and the bicycle rider is considered a “driver” in the eyes of the law. Bicyclists must adhere to the same laws on the roadway as drivers in passenger vehicles, including following all traffic signs and lights as well as right-of-way requirements. In addition:
- Bicyclists should operate as near to the right side of the roadway as practical, except when making left-hand turns, to avoid hazards on the roadway, when the lane is too narrow to share safely with the vehicle, when traveling at the same speed as traffic, or when exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle.
- Bicyclists shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of the road by set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
- Bicyclists must use specific bike paths when they have been set aside adjacent to the roadway and designated for the use of bicycles.
- No bicyclist is allowed to carry any package, bundle, or other object that prevents them from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.
- When operating at night time, a bicycle should be equipped with a light on the front that emits a white light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the front. A bicycle should also have a red reflector on the rear that shall be visible from a distance of 300 feet from the rear of the bicycle when illuminated by a vehicle’s high beams.
- All bicycles shall have a break that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level pavement.
If you suffered a bicycle accident or an accident caused by a bicyclist, it’s best to contact a Peachtree City personal injury attorney to help you determine fault and recover compensation to pay for medical bills and other expenses.
Is wearing a helmet required?
Georgia law requires that any bicycle rider under the age of 16 wears a helmet. Under Georgia law, it is specified that the helmet must meet or exceed impact standards for bicycle helmets set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
Anyone who is 16 years of age or older is not required to wear a helmet when they ride a bicycle. However, it is strongly recommended that every bicycle rider wears a helmet. Bicyclists are extremely vulnerable in an impact with a passenger vehicle. Not only do bicyclists have to be concerned about being struck by the vehicle, but they often sustain a secondary impact with the ground. A helmet can prevent serious traumatic brain injuries or open head wounds from occurring.
Can bicyclists ride on sidewalks in Georgia?
Under state law, it is unlawful for any bicyclist over the age of 12 to ride on the sidewalk. Bicycle riders who are over the age of 12 must operate their bicycle on the roadway. Bicyclists are generally seen as a hazard to pedestrian traffic on sidewalks.