Bicycle Safety Tips
There are hundreds of thousands of accidents between automobiles and bicycles each year in the United States. These accidents often have devastating consequences for the cyclists involved, so it is crucial for cyclists to understand their duties on the road and to exercise caution when riding. This article explains the basic legal requirements of cycling on the road and offers some other safety tips to follow.
The most important thing for bicycle riders to be aware of is that under Georgia law, bicycles are legally classified as “vehicles.” This means that cyclists generally have the same duty to follow the rules of the road as motor vehicles do. For instance, cyclists must obey traffic lights and signs, must give the right of way to pedestrians, and must ride along in the same direction as traffic. However, there are some special rules that apply to cyclists:
- Under O.C.G.A. 40-6-292, it is illegal for more than one person to ride a single-person bicycle at the same time. An exception exists for infants that are secured by an infant sling or affixed to the bicycle in a bicycle trailer.
- Under O.C.G.A. 40-6-293, it is illegal for cyclists to attach themselves to a vehicle as they ride.
- Under O.C.G.A. 40-6-294, cyclists must ride as close to the right side of the road as possible, except when turning left or avoiding hazards. It is important to remember that, although cyclists should stay as far to the right as they safely can, they have every right to ride in lanes of traffic if they need to avoid poor road conditions, pedestrians, or any other “hazard.”
- O.C.G.A. 40-6-295 actually makes it a crime for anyone to carry anything on a bicycle that prevents them from keeping both hands on the handlebars at the same time. This law, however, does not mean that riders must always maintain both hands on the handlebars at all times – rather, they cannot carry something that prevents them from doing so.
- O.C.G.A. 40-6-296 outlines several requirements for bicycle equipment. For instance, bicycles should always have working breaks and should have lights if they are being used at night.
Additional Safety Tips
Riding safely isn’t just about following the law; it is also about following your common sense. Here are some other basic safety tips:
- Communicate with drivers by making appropriate hand signals and when possible, by making eye contact before crossing through an intersection.
- Maintain control of your bicycle.
- Protect yourself—reduce the risk of head injury by always wearing a helmet. In Georgia, riders under the age of 16 are legally required to wear a helmet.
- Be visible, alert, and communicate your intentions.
- Ride with traffic.
- Motorists should always watch for cyclists at intersections, and be patient when passing a cyclist on the road. When passing, the Georgia DMV recommends allowing clearance of at least three feet.
- The dangers of drunk driving get a lot of attention, but remember that riding a bicycle while intoxicated is highly dangerous as well. In fact, a recent federal study revealed that alcohol was involved in 34% of all fatal auto-cyclist crashes and that 24% of cyclists who were killed in these accidents were intoxicated.
Following these safety tips will help you stay safe on the road. Pay attention to other great resources out there are as well – but remember that not everything you read on the Internet is true. Official government sources, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are excellent sources of gaining further information.
If you do get in a bicycle accident, a qualified bicycle accident attorney can help you understand your rights. If you would like more information about this issue, call Joel Williams Law, LLC, at (404) 389-1035 today for a free consultation.