The passing distance in Georgia is three feet; however, not all motorists adhere to these rules, which can result in serious bicyclist injuries.
According to Georgia law, bicycles are considered vehicles, just like cars, trucks or motorcycles. As such, bicyclists must follow traffic laws the same way as drivers of motor vehicles. This also means bicyclists have the same rights as other motorists and people using the road. If you’re a Georgia driver, you should always pay attention to bicyclists and change lanes or give them at least three feet when passing them.
People riding bicycles are not protected from outside elements with a thick layer of steel the way other motorists are, which makes them vulnerable to serious injuries when an accident occurs. Therefore, when you see a bicyclist sharing a busy road with you, always be sure to give them space.
Georgia’s Updated Three Feet Law
Originally, the “three feet” law only required passing motorists to give the bicyclist at least three feet of space. However, the law was recently updated, and the amendment took effect in July 2021.
The updated Georgia bike safety law still requires drivers to keep a three-foot distance when passing bicyclists. Additionally, motor vehicle drivers must adhere to these rules:
- Change lanes when passing a bicyclist (if possible). Drivers can legally cross a white or double yellow line if the driver determines they can do so safely in order to give a bike rider space.
- If changing lanes is not possible, drivers must slow down to either 10 miles below the speed limit or 25 miles per hour (whichever is greater).
- Once the driver reaches the permitted speed, they can now pass the bicyclist but only if it’s possible to maintain at least three feet of distance between the car and the bicycle.
- Passing a bicyclist while making a blind turn or when going over a blind hill is prohibited.
- Violating these rules may result in a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $250.
Some people may have a tough time visualizing three feet. If you’re one of these people, try to picture common three-foot long objects in your mind, like a guitar, a baseball bat or three footlong sub sandwiches.
What Else Do I Need to Know About Georgia Bicycle Laws?
If you’re bike riding in Georgia, it’s important to know your responsibilities to ensure you and others are safe on the road. Also, it’s important to know your legal rights in case you’re ever injured in a bicycle accident. If you’ve recently moved to Georgia or are a beginner cyclist, you may have several questions pertaining to bicycle safety.
Where Can I Ride My Bicycle?
You can ride your bike in designated bicycle lanes or on the far-right side of the roadway. You should refrain from riding on sidewalks unless your local ordinance allows it or you’re under 12 years of age. For instance, if you’re going on a bike ride with your family, your children may be allowed to ride on a sidewalk, but you’ll likely have to stay on the roadway.
What Are the Safety Rules When Riding My Bike?
You should never ride against traffic, even if you’re in a designated bicycle lane. Just like other vehicle drivers, you’re required to abide by the speed limit and stop at stop signs and traffic lights. You must signal every turn by extending your arm out to the right or left depending on which direction you’re going. If you’re about to stop or slow down, signal this by holding your left arm down with your palm facing backwards.
Do I Have to Wear a Helmet?
If you’re 16 or older, you are not required to wear a helmet. Still, it’s prudent to wear one to prevent serious head injuries in case you get into an accident. Additionally, your bicycle must be equipped with working breaks and a white headlight if you’re riding your bike at night.
Have You Been Injured in a Bicycle Crash in Atlanta?
Bicycle accidents are rarely inconsequential. Unfortunately, many Atlanta drivers neglect to yield to bicyclists. If you’ve been hurt in a bicycle accident because of someone else’s disregard for your safety, the personal injury lawyers at the Dressie Law Firm can help you get the compensation you deserve.
To schedule your free consultation, call 678-619-2977 or send us a message.