Georgia is home to numerous bike trails for recreational, touring, commuting, and competitive cyclists. These include the paved and natural surface trails on Jekyll Island, the adventure trails in Blue Ridge, the abandoned railroad line called the Atlanta BeltLine, and the inclusive mountain biking trail system in Blankets Creek.
The state placed 24th on the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly State report for 2022, earning a B-grade in the traffic laws and practices category. The report showed that only 0.22% of Georgians biked to work. But, despite this small percentage, the state had 23.2 fatalities per 10,000 bike commuters
Georgia law regards bicycles as vehicles. Thus, bicycle riders have the same duties and rights as drivers of other motor vehicles.
To avoid road accidents, it’s essential that riders learn about the rules and regulations that apply to bicycles in Georgia. Additionally, it will benefit people who have been involved in bicycle accidents if they understand the laws related to claims and lawsuits.
Georgia Laws on Riding Bicycles on Roadways and Bicycle Paths
When traveling at speeds below the posted speed limit, bicyclists must stay as near to the right of the road as is practicable and safe. But an exception applies if the rider is turning left, avoiding hazards, or operating on narrow roads unsafe to share with another vehicle.
Bicycle riders are not permitted to go more than two abreast on public roadways, except in bike lanes, bike-only sections of the road, and at special events approved by the local government. In addition, cyclists must always ride in the same direction as the flow of traffic even when using the bike lanes.
If the rider is younger than 13 years old, they must only use the sidewalks.
Clinging to other vehicles on the roadway is prohibited. The same rule applies to those riding coasters, toy vehicles, and roller skates.
Bicyclists are required to follow all applicable traffic signs, signals, and markings and halt at a clearly marked stop line, except when specifically instructed otherwise by a police officer. Disregarding a stop sign is one of the most common causes of crashes where the cyclist is at fault, so it is important to take note of this law.
Georgia’s Three Feet Law
To protect bicycles from being hit by passing vehicles, Georgia implements what is known as the 3 Feet Law.
Under this law, drivers must observe safety precautions when approaching a bicycle. These include switching into a lane that is not next to a bicyclist. If this is impossible, dangerous, or illegal, then the driver must slow down to an appropriate speed, which should be at least 25 mph or at least 10 mph slower than the posted limit. In addition, whenever passing a bicycle, a driver must maintain a distance of at least three feet between their vehicle and the bicycle.
Drivers who violate the 3 Feet Law may be charged with a misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $250.
Georgia’s Bicycle Equipment Requirements
Georgia law requires riders to equip their bicycles with safety features that will protect them and other road users. They must ensure that their bicycles have a white front light and a red rear light visible from 300 feet away at night. A red reflector may be used instead of a rear light as long as the device meets Department of Public Safety standards.
The bike must also be equipped with brakes that can fully stop the vehicle on dry, level pavement. The handlebars should be positioned such that the rider's hands won't be higher than their shoulders.
Georgia’s Bicycle Helmet Law
Wearing a helmet is mandatory in Georgia for bicyclists under the age of 16. These riders must wear helmets while operating their bicycles on a sidewalk, bicycle path, highway, or bike lane.
Other helmet-related requirements in the state include the following:
The helmet must meet nationally accepted standards, be a good fit, and be fastened securely.
Businesses renting out bicycles must provide a bicycle helmet to renters younger than 16 during the time of rental.
Individuals under age 16 who are caught violating the helmet law shall not be fined or imprisoned.
Georgia’s Bicycle Signaling Law
Cyclists in Georgia are required to give hand and arm signals when stopping or turning. They must have their hand and arm extended horizontally to signal their intention to turn left. When their bicycle is turning right, the rider must extend their hand and arm upward.
Bike operators stopping or slowing down must signal by extending their hands downward.
In addition, to signal right-hand turns, bicyclists may use their right arm and hand extended horizontally.
Georgia’s Manner of Riding Bicycles Law
Georgia has established a law on the right way to ride a bicycle, including how many people can ride a bike and what their minimum age should be.
First, the operator must use a permanent and regular seat attached to the bike. No person should be allowed to ride on the handlebars.
Next, a bicycle must only transport or carry the number of people it is designed and equipped for. Children aged one to four years old must be secured in a child passenger bicycle seat properly attached to the bicycle according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Lastly, children under one year old are not allowed to ride a bicycle unless they are seated in a bicycle trailer or carried using an infant sling.
Violations of this law shall not be treated as negligence, and individuals under 16 shall not be fined or imprisoned for noncompliance.
Georgia’s Law on Carrying Bags and Packages
Georgia cyclists must keep at least one hand on the handlebars. They must not carry any item, such as a bag or package, that can reduce their ability to control their bicycle. Local bicycle organizations advise riders carrying bulky items to put them on a bike rack or basket.
Is Georgia a No-fault State for Bike Accidents?
No, Georgia is not a no-fault state. Instead, it is considered an at-fault or tort state. This means that if a bicyclist is injured in an accident with another road user, the at-fault party is responsible for the victim’s damages.
The injured party can seek compensation by filing a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company or by filing a lawsuit in court.
However, it is important to note that Georgia is a modified comparative fault state. A plaintiff can only recover damages as long as they are not more than 50% at fault for the accident.
If they meet this requirement, they can still receive compensation even if they are partially at fault, but the amount they will get will be reduced proportionally to their degree of fault.
If more than one person is found to be negligent, the defendant who pays for the damages is entitled to receive a contribution from other defendants based on the extent of their liability.
A personal injury attorney can advise whether a bicycle accident victim should file an insurance claim or a lawsuit to receive compensation for their damages.
How Much Can Someone Sue for a Bicycle Accident in Georgia?
There is no law in Georgia that limits compensation for economic and non-economic damages in bicycle accident cases.
Economic damages cover losses like property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and costs of future medical rehabilitation. Non-economic damages include loss of consortium, emotional anguish, and pain and suffering.
The court may award punitive damages to an accident victim to punish or penalize a defendant who is found to have acted with malice. But this type of compensation has a cap of $250,000.
In Georgia, negligence lawsuits require evidence that the plaintiff sustained injuries because of the defendant’s recklessness. The injured party must prove that the defendant owed them a duty and that they breached that duty, leading to the accident.
What Is Georgia’s Statute of Limitations for Bicycle Accidents?
Injury victims in Georgia have two years from the date of their accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Those injured in bicycle crashes must comply with this statute of limitations; otherwise, they will lose their right to receive compensation.
For personal property damage, the statute of limitations is longer, giving plaintiffs four years to file a suit.
Bicycle accident claimants must observe these legal time limits to protect their right to recover damages. The guidance of a personal injury attorney will be helpful in filing claims without delay.
Legal Resources for Georgia Bicycle Accident Victims
The State Bar of Georgia maintains a Find a Lawyer online directory connecting bicycle accident victims with legal professionals specializing in personal injury law, including bicycle accidents. Victims and their families can find qualified lawyers based on their location and the nature of their case.
The Georgia State Bar's Pro Bono Resource Center is an initiative that aims to deliver free legal services to individuals who cannot afford to pay for legal representation. It connects clients with volunteer attorneys willing to offer pro bono assistance. Bicycle accident victims can request pro bono legal representation for their cases.
Georgia Legal Aid provides free legal information and assistance to low-income individuals and families in Georgia. The non-profit organization also offers different legal resources and self-help tools that bicycle accident victims can use when planning to pursue a claim.
The Georgia Legal Services Program has been providing free civil legal services to low-income Georgia residents since the 1970s. Operating with 10 regional offices, the nonprofit law firm offers legal representation without charge. Bicycle accident victims can explore their legal options for protecting their rights and pursuing compensation without worrying about whether they can afford a lawyer.
Georgia Free Legal Answers is an online platform created by the American Bar Association and the State Bar of Georgia. It provides answers to legal matters concerning bicycle accidents. Injured victims can submit inquiries without having to disclose confidential information. Volunteer attorneys will then answer these questions for free.
Bicycle accident victims looking for documents related to their case can use the Georgia Department of Transportation Crash Data Dashboard. The web page has data visualizations and even crash maps with a filtering system to help users find the information they need. It also educates people on reporting an accident and obtaining a copy of a crash report.
The Georgia Bicyclist Pocket Guide provides road safety tips, legal information, and practical riding advice. It educates riders about bicycle laws and navigating Georgia's roadways safely. It can also serve as a reference for bicycle accident victims to better understand cyclists' rights and responsibilities.
511 Georgia is a traveler information website with real-time updates and resources on current road conditions, traffic incidents, and travel advisories. It helps bicycle riders stay informed of ongoing traffic incidents affecting their cycling route.
Step into the world of Expertise.com, your go-to hub for credible insights. We don't take accuracy lightly around here. Our squad of expert reviewers, each a maestro in their field, has given the green light to every single article you'll find. From rigorous fact-checking to meticulous evaluations of service providers, we've got it all covered. So feel free to dive in and explore. The information you'll uncover has been stamped with the seal of approval by our top-notch experts.