GEORGIA BICYCLE LAWS
It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Georgia. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here).
For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Bruce Hagen directly.
Right to the Road
- Georgia bicyclists generally have the same rights, and same duties, as drivers of motor vehicles, with certain specified exceptions.
- Clinging to motor vehicles while biking is not permitted.
- Bicycles may only carry the number of persons for which it is designed, and nobody is allowed to ride on the handlebars.
- There is no statewide requirement for helmet for adults, however, children under 16 years of age in Georgia must legally wear a helmet while riding in public.
- Georgia’s DUI statute applies to people riding bicycles, but the penalties for DUI under O.C.G.A sec. 40-6-391(c) do not apply to people riding bicycles.
Where to Ride
- Bicycles are to ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, except when (1) turning left, (2) avoiding hazards to safe cycling, (3) the lane is too narrow to share safely with a motor vehicle, (4) traveling the same speed as traffic (5) passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction, or (6) there is a right turn only lane and the person riding the bicycle is not turning right.
- People on bicycles must ride in the same direction as the flow of traffic.
- People over the age of 12 are not legally permitted to ride on the sidewalk.
Motor Vehicle Doors
- No person may open the door of a motor vehicle unless it is reasonably safe to do so.
Bike Lanes, Bike Paths and Multi-Use Paths
- Bike lanes are for the exclusive use of Georgia bicyclists, but a person on a bicycle is not required to use the bike lane unless required to do so by a local governing authority.
- Where a bicycle lane is provided on the roadway, the operator of a motor vehicle shall yield to a person operating a bicycle in a bicycle lane.
- To turn left bicyclists may perform a “box turn” or use the left turn lane.
- A left turning bicyclist must yield the right of way to a driver intending to proceed straight at an intersection.
Stop Signs and Traffic Control Devices
- Bicyclists are required to come to a full and complete stop at all stop signs and traffic lights displaying a red signal.
- Bicyclists must use hand/arm signals when turning and stopping.
Drivers Overtaking Bicyclists
- The operator of a motor vehicle, when overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, shall leave a “safe distance” between the motor vehicle and the bicycle. “Safe Distance” is defined by law as meaning not less than three (3) feet.
Bicycles Passing on the Right
- Bicyclists may pass motor vehicles on the right only if conditions permit such movement in safety and only if it can be done without riding off the roadway. Under such conditions, a person on a bicycle can pass on the right if (1) the vehicle being passed is making or about to make a left turn, or (2) upon a street or highway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for two or more lanes of moving vehicles in the direction being traveled by the overtaking vehicle. (NOTE: since a bicycle is considered a “vehicle” and since a Bike lane is a “lane”, one interpretation is that if there’s enough pavement to the right of the car in which to fit a bike lane, then it’s ok to pass cars on the right as long as all other specified conditions are met)
- Bicyclists may not ride more than 2 abreast on the road.
- Every bicycle must be equipped with a white front facing headlight visible from at least 300 feet at night, and a red rear reflector or red light visible from at least 300 feet at night.
- Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level pavement.
- No bicycle shall have handlebars so raised that the operator must elevate his or her hands above the operator’s shoulders in order to grasp the normal steering grip area.
Police Inspection of Bicycles
- A uniformed police officer may stop and inspect a bicycle at any time upon reasonable cause that a bicycle is unsafe or not equipped as required by law.
Electric Assist Bikes
- Bicyclists may use a e-bikes in the same matter as traditional bicycles.
- Local governing authorities may pass different rules for operation of electric assist bicycles.
- Rules and Laws regarding e-bikes are in flux and likely to change rapidly, so check for updates regularly.