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Safety Tips for Bicyclists and Drivers to Share the Road

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Published in Bicycle Safety Tips and Bicycle Accidents on August 29, 2016.

Though the speed and mass of cars make them much more dangerous than bicycles, the laws of the road for each are very similar, and unless there is a designated bicycling lane, passenger cars must share the road with cyclists.

Bicycles are allowed on any roads that do not expressly prohibit them, such as limited-access highways. Some roads have bicycle lanes while others do not. Cyclists should keep the following safety advice in mind:

  • Always attempt to stay as close to the curb as possible however inside the “fog” or “white” line of the road. This may not always be an option, but you may not hear a vehicle approaching from behind. This can be especially dangerous on windy roads with low visibility around turns.
  • Bicyclist are subject to ALL traffic laws.
    • Under Georgia Law, Bicycles are considered “Motored vehicles”. Regardless if they powered by human or combustion engines in the eyes of the law they are treated the same, thus subject to the Motor Vehicle Statute Title 40.
    • Just because you’re on a bike does not mean you do not have to respect stop signs, traffic lights, and other traffic signals. Stop at stop signs and red lights, and be sure to use hand signals to indicate when you intend to make a turn.
  • Ride with the flow of traffic. Many cyclists express concerns about being hit from behind, but bicycles have to operate as any other vehicle, meaning they must stay as close to the right curb as possible and travel in the same direction as other vehicles.
  • Wear proper safety equipment. Even if you follow the rules of the road, are familiar with the area where you are cycling, and indicate all maneuvers, you are still far more vulnerable to injury on a bicycle than in a car. Helmets can prevent traumatic brain injuries and save lives.
  • Contrary to popular belief, in Georgia and most other States Bicycles are NOT allowed to ride on sidewalks. If bicyclist decide to ride on sidewalks and get into an accident the cyclist will more than likely be found at fault for this common misconception.

Drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles with care for everyone else on the road, not just other vehicles. Keep these tips in mind if you find yourself driving near bicyclists:

  • Treat bicycles like other cars. Although drivers may work to circumvent bicyclists, drivers owe them the same respect as any other motorist and should treat them as an equal on the road.
  • Don’t get too close. Even if the cyclist near your car cannot keep up with the flow of traffic, don’t tail them or travel too closely. Many states have a three-foot rule, which stipulates motorists must give bicyclists at least three feet of space.
  • Don’t forget to signal. Always use your turn signals to indicate to other drivers when you intend to turn – this is especially important near bicyclists. If a cyclist is to your right and intends to continue straight and you wish to make a right turn, you must signal or risk them crashing into you or vice versa.
  • Appreciate the vulnerability of bicyclists. Think about the weight and size difference between your car and a bicycle. Be sensitive to the fact that they are far more vulnerable to injury than you are in your car.
  • Be careful when exiting your vehicle. If you park on the street, check behind your vehicle before opening your door. A bicyclist is likely traveling close to the parked cars along the sidewalk, and a cyclist may not be able to stop in time if someone opens a car door in front of him or her. Such an impact can cause serious injury to both the bike and the rider.

If you are injured by a motorist while bicycling or a bicyclist happened to injure you, understand that you have legal options. If the other party was negligent or careless, there is no reason you should be left to pay for his or her poor judgment and suffer injury. Get in touch with the legal professionals at Nelson & Smith if you have questions about a bicycling accident in Georgia. We’ll discuss your case during a free consultation and explore your options.

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