In Atlanta and other major cities, an innovative group known as "Critical Mass" has organized to promote riding bicycles among city streets used primarily by motor vehicles. Critical Mass riders seek to promote enthusiasm for bike riding in what has become a “car culture.” Critical Mass hosts monthly Friday rides.
The Atlanta Bicycle Campaign, another bicycle activist group, hosts an annual Share the Road event that promotes safe riding by cyclists on the Atlanta streets. The event hosts an annual ride and raises money to promotes cycling safety on Atlanta streets.
However, cycling in Atlanta is not a smooth ride. In 2001 Bicycling Magazine named Atlanta as the worst city for riding a bike. While Atlanta has the right weather and plenty of bike advocacy groups, the local roads have very few bike lanes. Plus urban sprawl and excessive traffic make riding in Atlanta less than hospitable.
In my practice, we represent many pedestrians and cyclists who have been injured in accidents with motor vehicles. For the cyclists, these injury are often very serious. Knowing the rules of the road is key to safe cycling.
Bikes are considered vehicles under Georgia law unless the statute specifically refers to “motor vehicles.” Cyclists riding on Georgia roads must:
- Ride on a regulation seat;
- Carry only the number of passengers allowed on a bike;
- Not transport a child under the age of one;
- Not transport a child between the ages of one and four unless in a regulation seat;
- Not attach the bike to any vehicle and ride in transport;
- Not ride more than two abreast on the roadway;
- Use a bike path where provided;
- Not carry any packages or bundles which prevent riding with both hands;
- Have a regulation white and red light on the bicycle when operating it at night;
- Have a bike with standard regulation handlebars, peddles, reflectors and brakes;
- Wear a regulation helmet.
For more information on bike safety see also the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
The Share the Road campaign promotes safe cycling and is funded in part by the Office of Highway Safety. The campaign reminds both cyclists and motorists that
- Cyclists have the right to ride on all surface roads;
- Cyclists should never ride more than two abreast;
- Motorists must pass in a safe manner;
- Cyclists take the lane when the lane is narrow.
Safe cycling in metro Atlanta is no easy adventure. Both cyclists and motorists must know their rights. With few bike lanes to accommodate the bikers now taking to the road, everyone must keep their eye on the road.
Finally, for those who enjoy riding the open road, here are a few safety tips:
- Wear a helmet to protect your head and face
- Wear sport sun glasses to keep the bugs and sun out of your eyes;
- Wear bright reflective clothing so other drivers can see you;
- Wear padded gloves and padded shorts to protect hands and reduce pain;
- Make sure your bike is in proper working order, i.e. check the brakes!;
- Make sure your bike has reflectors and lights;
- When riding with a child, make sure the child is in a regulation seat; wears a helmet; and fit the bike with spoke guards.
Find more information on bicycle safety tips. And by all means, have a safe ride!