With mountains in the north and flat coastal areas to the south, Georgia offers a wide variety of terrains that are great for cycling. Like all states, Georgia has a number of laws and regulations that apply to cyclists. These are in place to help ensure the safety of cyclists as well as motorists, and it is extremely important to understand them before hitting the road on your bike. In this guide to understanding Georgia’s bike laws, you will discover everything you need to know about safe and legal cycling in the Peach State.
Wearing a helmet while cycling is always a good idea, and in some instances, it’s the law. In Georgia, all cyclists and bicycle passengers under the age of 16 are required to wear helmets on highways, bicycle lanes, bicycle paths and sidewalks. The protective headgear must meet or exceed impact standards for bike helmets established by the Snell Memorial Foundation or the American National Standards Institute. The helmet must fit well and be properly secured to the wearer’s head by its straps.
When riding at night, a bicycle must have a light on the front that emits white light that can be seen from a distance of 300 feet. The rear of the bike must be equipped with a red light that can also be seen from a distance of 300 feet. If a bicycle has a rear red reflector that has been approved by the Department of Public Safety, the rear light is not mandatory.
Riding on Roadways
When riding on roadways, cyclists are typically required to remain as close to the right side of the road as practical. There are, however, certain exceptions. When turning left, avoiding hazards, traveling at the same speed as traffic, passing a standing vehicle or a vehicle proceeding in the same direction and when there is a right turning lane and the cyclist is not turning right, he or she is not required to stay close to the right side of the road. If the lane is too narrow for a cyclist and a motor vehicle to share the space side by side, the cyclist also is not required to stay to the right.
Bicycles may never travel more than two abreast unless they are riding in bicycle lanes, bicycle paths or other parts of the roadway that are designated for the exclusive use of cyclists. Special event permits may also be issued to allow riding more than two abreast.
All cyclists are permitted to ride on paved shoulders, but they are not required to do so. Bicycles are required to travel in the same direction as motorized traffic, and riders over the age of 12 may not ride on the sidewalk unless permitted by a local ordinance.
In addition to the laws listed here, there are several things bikers should do to stay safe on the road. While generally not required by law, these things can help prevent bicycle accidents and make the roads safer for both cyclists and drivers.
Since bikes don’t have turn signals, hand signals are extremely important. If you are turning right, you have two options. You can either point right with your right hand, or you can raise your left hand with your elbow bent 90 degrees. For left turns, point left with your left hand. When stopping, lower your left hand with your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle.
When riding at night, always wear bright, reflective clothing. Never assume that a motorist is able to see you and be extremely cautious when moving through intersections. Be careful when traveling on wet roadways, too. Wet weather may make it harder for you to slow down or stop, so give yourself some extra space when braking. Avoid metal objects like construction plates if possible, as they can be extremely slippery when wet. Don’t ride through puddles unless absolutely necessary because they could be deeper than they appear.
Georgia is a beautiful state, and it’s a great place to explore on a bicycle. As a cyclist, you are responsible for understanding and abiding by the laws in the area where you are riding. The laws listed here should serve as general guidelines for riding in Georgia, but there may be other local rules and ordinances you need to know about. Understanding the laws keeps you out of trouble, and it can help you avoid a serious bicycle accident. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident or have questions about Georgia’s bike laws, we can help. Contact us today.