In Georgia, cyclists have the same right as other vehicles to be on the road. However, bicycle accidents often happen when other motorists don’t know or respect traffic laws related to bikes, such as how right of way works. These can lead to serious injuries or even fatalities resulting from bicycle accidents with motor vehicles on highways or roadways.
To protect cyclists and keep our roads safe, it’s important to understand how “right of way” works for bicycles and if it ever differs from the laws regarding other vehicles on the road.
When do bicycles have the right of way in Georgia?
Bicycles are legally considered vehicles on Georgia roads, so all general traffic laws, including “right of way,” also apply to bicycle riders. This means anyone who is 10 years and older riding a bicycle should behave as though they are vehicles, assuming the same responsibilities and rights. That means:
- Riding in the same direction as other drivers: on the right with flowing traffic
- Following the same traffic rules for motor vehicles
- Having the same right of way as other vehicles when turning left or right or merging into traffic
- Not riding on sidewalks if the cyclist is over the age of 13 (it’s a misconception that sidewalks are meant for bicyclists instead of the street)
If the road contains bike lanes, cyclists are required to use the lane on the right side of the road—and drivers should be aware and respectful of bike lanes when following or passing the cyclist.
With all of this in mind, drivers on Georgia roads should also be mindful of bicyclist vulnerability compared with motor vehicles. While a car can weight around two tons, a bicycle is little more than 20 pounds, meaning cyclists are more likely to suffer serious injuries in an accident. Drivers of motor vehicles should treat bicycles as their equals:
- Making room for cyclists on the road as they would other vehicles
- Watching carefully for bicycles behind them before turning left or right
- Looking out the vehicle’s sideview mirror for incoming bicycles on streets before opening car doors
- Not merging into bicycle lanes without looking for cyclists using them
The state of Georgia also requires motor vehicles to give bicycles about three feet of space on the road. This is meant to allow adequate space for avoiding sideswipes or other accidents.
Motorists on roads should give bicycles the same degree of consideration and respect as everyone else. That means giving cyclists the right of way in the same situations they would motor vehicles. If you’re a cyclist who was injured in a bicycle accident, our bicycle accident lawyers are here to help. For more than two decades, we’ve been solely dedicated to fighting for personal injury victims like cyclists seeking fair financial recovery for damages. For a FREE consultation to discuss your next steps with one of our lawyers, call 404-341-6555 or fill out the form to your right today.