Atlanta Bicycle Laws
In Atlanta, a bicycle is considered a vehicle, which means that motor vehicle laws that apply to cars, trucks, and tractor-trailers also apply to riding a bike on public roadways. In other words, that means that the uniform rules of the road also apply to people riding bicycles.
Although bicycle riders are more vulnerable to injury than motor vehicle drivers, they are still held to the same standards. The traffic laws for bicyclists in Atlanta are not appreciatively different, but there are some rules in place that are meant to make them safer. If you require legal assistance to determine if you could be deemed at-fault for an accident, a determined bicycle accident attorney could work with you on your case.
In Atlanta, traffic laws apply to bicycle riders in a variety of ways. If you were injured in a recent biking accident, one of our skilled Atlanta bicycle accident lawyers could discuss with you how these rules and regulations may impact the outcome of your case.
How the State Address Bicycles
The Georgia state legislature has codified specific laws that pertain to both the operation of a bicycle and the equipment itself. For example, any person operating a bicycle should signal a right-hand turn by extending their right arm horizontally, or by extending their left arm and raising their left hand upwards.
The Board of Public Safety in Georgia regulates the operation of bicycles on Atlanta roads.
Finally, there are various civil rights and obligations that require cyclists to be cautious of other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians on the road. These laws become especially significant during a civil case, when lawyers from both sides attempt to establish who was legally at fault for a biking accident.
Distinct Bicycle Laws in Atlanta
There are several distinct Atlanta bicycle laws codified in Official Code of Georgia §40-6-292. One of those laws is that any person propelling a bicycle must ride upon a permanent and regular seat attached to their bike, and they may not allow any other person to ride on the handlebars.
In other words, there should be only one person on any given bicycle unless it is designed for two or more riders. For example, if a bicycle is equipped to carry a toddler or a baby, or if there is a second bicycle seat specifically designed by the manufacturer to carry more than one person, that is fine.
Furthermore, it is illegal to transport a child under the age of one as a bicycle passenger on a highway, roadway, bicycle path, bicycle lane, or sidewalk. A child under the age of one can be transported in a bicycle trailer or infant sling as long as they are secured in the trailer or swing according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Additionally, no child between the ages of one and four years can ride as a passenger on a bicycle or in a bicycle trailer unless they are securely seated in a child passenger bicycle seat, and that seat is installed and utilized in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.
Another distinct law makes it illegal for any person riding a bicycle in Atlanta to attach themselves to any vehicle on a roadway. That means a cyclist cannot fasten their bicycle to another vehicle while that it is moving, nor can they hold on with their arm to another vehicle that is moving.
Applying Traffic Laws to Bicycles
In Atlanta, the Georgia motor vehicle laws apply to bicyclists as well. Bicyclists have to ride on the right-hand side of the road, with the flow of traffic, and are required to obey traffic signs and signals. Bicyclists are not allowed to ride on sidewalks and they must use hand signals to signal where they are turning. However, they can move into the lane if they intend to make a left-hand turn.
In addition, riders under the age of 16 must wear a helmet that complies with the standards set by the American National Standards Institute. Riders over the age of 16 are not required to wear a helmet, although it is in their best personal interest to wear one.
Why Should Cyclists Follow Traffic Laws?
Local bicyclists should also follow traffic laws because it helps drivers to see them. A bicycle riding with traffic is much less likely to get into a wreck because it is easy for drivers who are going with the flow of traffic to see those bicycles and follow them. A rider coming straight on to them might not provide enough time to adjust.
A bicyclist following or not following the laws can impact an injury case. Georgia follows the doctrine of comparative fault. If a bicyclist was not following the traffic laws, a jury could put some fault on that bicycle rider, and their final damages award would be reduced by that percentage. If they are 50 percent or more at fault, then they would not be able to recover for any injuries.
Evidence That Could Prove Fault
There is a great deal of evidence that a defense lawyer could use to prove that a bicyclist is potentially at fault. If the investigating officer gave the citation to the bicyclist for not complying with traffic laws, such as riding against the flow of traffic or riding on the sidewalk, that could be used against them.
If the cyclist had a camera such as GoPro attached, or if the car has an active dash cam, that video would be an invaluable piece of evidence. A lawyer should also check the accident area for potential traffic cameras or surveillance cameras from nearby establishments.
Can Wearing a Helmet Impact a Case?
The failure to wear a helmet is not considered negligence by Georgia law. If someone was not wearing a helmet, they cannot be determined to be at fault for the collision. Despite this, all bicyclists are encouraged to wear a helmet even if not wearing one has no legal impact on the case. Wearing one can reduce the chance of sustaining a traumatic brain injury or even dying in an accident.
If it is determined that an Atlanta bicycle rider also violated some traffic laws, a jury may place fault on the rider. If the bicycle rider is under 50 percent at fault, then an injury case is still viable and that rider will be allowed to recover for the percentage of the injuries the motor vehicle driver is at fault for.
The Importance of Talking to an Attorney About Atlanta Bicycle Laws
It is important to note that a violation of O.C.G.A. §40-60-292 would not constitute negligence per se or contributory negligence per se, so it would not be considered evidence of civil liability. Additionally, there is a specific statute which states that no person under the age of 16 years who fails to comply with this statute can be fined or imprisoned.
For other parties and other circumstances, though, violation of bicycle laws in Atlanta can have a significant impact on an injured cyclist’s case. To learn more about how these regulations could affect your claim for compensation, talk with an experienced lawyer today.