What Is the Minimum Bicyclist Passing Distance Law in Georgia?

May 27, 2022

Safe Passing Distance for Bikes in Georgia: The 3-Foot Rule

 

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 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 motorists and people using the road. If you’re a Georgia driver, you should always pay attention to persons riding bicycles and changing lanes or giving them at least three feet when passing them.

People riding bicycles are not protected from outside elements with a thick layer of steel like other motorists, which makes them vulnerable to serious injuries when an accident occurs. Therefore, when you see a person riding a bicycle sharing a busy road with you, always give them space.

 

Georgia’s Updated Three Feet Law

 

Initially, the “three feet” law only required passing motorists to give a person operating a bicycle 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 a bicycle heading in the same direction. 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 to give a bike rider space.
  • If changing lanes is impossible, 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 pass the bicyclist, but only if they can maintain at least three feet of distance between them.
  • 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 trouble visualizing three feet. If you’re one of these people, try picturing common three-foot-long objects, like a guitar, a baseball bat, or three-foot-long sub sandwiches.

 

What Else Do I Need to Know About Georgia’s Bicycle Laws?

 

If you’re biking in Georgia, knowing your responsibilities is essential to ensure you and others are safe on the road. Knowing your legal rights is also essential 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 about 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. For instance, if you’re riding a bike 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 in a designated bicycle lane. Like other vehicle drivers, you must 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 backward.

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.

What if You Are Renting a Bike in Georgia?

If you’re under 16 and renting a bike, you must wear an accompanying protective bicycle helmet. The company providing the rental is also required to provide such helmets for users (unless the rider is using their own helmet).

How Should Infants Ride on a Bicycle?

Infants can ride in bicycle trailers or infant slings if they comply with the bicycle trailer’s or infant sling’s manufacturer’s instructions. The infant’s head must also be protected by the bicycle trailer or an appropriate helmet if they’re in an infant sling.

 

Safety Tips for Motorists Sharing the Road with Bicyclists

 

Sharing the road with cyclists can be a smooth and safe experience if motorists know their surroundings and follow some essential safety tips. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

  • Give cyclists plenty of space. Treat cyclists like any other vehicle and give them a safe passing distance of at least three feet whenever possible. This will help prevent accidents and provide a more comfortable and less stressful experience for both the motorist and cyclist.
  • Yield to cyclists at intersections. Like any other vehicle, cyclists have the right of way at intersections. Allow them to proceed through the intersection before you turn.
  • Be patient. Sometimes, you may follow a cyclist who is going slower than you’d like. Don’t try to pass them in a dangerous location. Wait for a safe opportunity to pass, such as a wide-open lane with good visibility.
  • Watch out for dooring. If you’re parked on the road and opening your door, check for cyclists before swinging the door open. This is called “dooring” and can be very dangerous for cyclists.
  • Be predictable. Maintain a steady speed and course whenever possible. Avoid weaving in and out of traffic, making it difficult for cyclists to predict your movements.
  • Don’t honk unnecessarily. Avoid using your horn unless necessary. Honking can startle cyclists and cause them to lose control, so use it sparingly and only when there is imminent danger.

Following these tips will help ensure a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone sharing the road.

 

Injured in a Bicyclist Accident? Contact Dressie Law Firm Today

 

Bicycle accidents are rarely inconsequential. Unfortunately, many Atlanta drivers neglect to yield to bicyclists. Suppose you’ve been hurt in a bicycle accident because of someone else’s disregard for your safety. In that case, 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.