Spring is Here, Accidents Involving Bicyclists will Increase
In April of this year, a Henry County doctor was cycling with his friends around 6:30 p.m. when he was struck by a car and killed. Reports are that the driver who ran into him was distracted. The doctor was an experienced bicyclist and member of the Southern Crescent Cycling group. At the time he was hit, there was a group ride taking place on another route. Ironically, the doctor and his friends chose to skip that ride and take the route that ultimately killed him, which supposedly had less traffic.
In May, a teenage bicyclist was killed shortly after dark on Farmers Bridge Road in Burke County. A driver hit him, tossing him in the air. He landed in the northbound lane where he was run over by two other vehicles, one of which left the scene of the accident. The accident is still under investigation.
As summer approaches, more and more cyclists take to the road to enjoy the outdoor weather. But, they need to be careful. In 2013, the most recent year for which there are statistics, 15 bicyclists were killed in Georgia. Hundreds more were injured. In an attempt to decrease accidents and fatalities, the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety has established The Georgia Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Center which has published a Pocket Guide with applicable rules of the road and tips on how to make summer bicycle riding in Georgia as safe as possible.
Bicycles are Vehicles in Georgia
Each state has its own laws regarding bicycles. Like most states, Georgia considers bicycles vehicles and, according to the Georgia Motor Vehicles and Traffic Code, bicyclists “have the same rights and responsibilities on public roads as motorists.” But when the code references just “motor vehicles,” then bicyclists are exempt from following those rules. When bicyclists walk their bikes, they are then pedestrians and must follow rules for pedestrians.
Quick Reference Rules
- Be sure you and your bike are visible both night and day. At night, a white front light as well as a red rear light are required and need to be visible from 300 feet.
- Ride on the roadway in the same direction as motor vehicles are driving.
- Follow all traffic control device, i.e. traffic signals, stop signs, yield signs, etc…
- Yield when changing lanes.
- Signal when you are going to make a turn. If your bicycle has signal lights, use them. Otherwise, use hand signals.
- Do not ride on the sidewalk.
- Never, ever hang on to a motor vehicle of any kind expecting the vehicle to pull you while you ride.
- Riders under the age of 16 are required to wear helmets. It is strongly encouraged that those of all ages also wear helmets. Helmets should fit well and be securely fastened. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “a helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash.”
- Don’t drink and pedal. Twenty percent of bicyclists involved in accidents had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, the legal limit for a BAC for driving a motor vehicle.
- Watch out for potholes and debris in the road.
Rules for Motor Vehicles Relevant to Bicycle Riders
Some motorists view bicyclists as nuisances and are unaware of motorist rules concerning bicyclists such as:
- It is legal for bicyclists to ride two abreast.
- Motor vehicle drivers must allow for a distance of three feet between the car and the bicycle when passing.
- When there is debris in the road, or other bad road conditions, bicyclists are allowed and encouraged to take the whole lane.
- Motorists who drive aggressively in a way that puts cyclists at risk for harm are subject to misdemeanor charges.
Each city or county has the option of making local ordinances applicable to bicycle riders, so be sure you check with the city where you live to find out what the local rules are. Also, different rules apply when you are riding on specially marked bicycle trails or paths, which are not the same as riding in a bicycle lane adjacent to the highway or roadway.
If you were injured in a Georgia bicycle accident, or someone you love was killed, contact Georgia Trial Attorneys at Kirchen & Grant. We offer a free and confidential case evaluation. We treat you with the respect you deserve and do our best to help you through this difficult time in the best possible way. That may mean fighting for you to receive all the compensation to which you are legally entitled.