Georgia has seen an increase in bicyclist on the roads in the past several years. While the state laws have a few protections in place for bicyclists, the city of Dunwoody is going one step further and proposing a new law that have even tougher penalties for dangerous drivers, and make the roads safer for bicyclists.
The Dunwoody ordinance was introduced by City Councilman Tom Lambert. Currently, Georgia laws require that vehicles maintain a distance of a minimum of 3 feet while passing bicyclists. However, the ordinance would extend that provision to 6 feet, and would add trucks and commercial vehicles to the law. These vehicles would be required to maintain a distance of a minimum of 6 feet while passing bicyclists.
The ordinance also proposes stiffer penalties for motorists who fail to respect the rights of bicyclists. It goes further than any other such similar ordinances passed elsewhere in the state, because it specifically targets motorists who engage in intimidating and harassing actions towards bicyclists. As many cyclists in Atlanta know, cyclists are far too vulnerable to road rage incidents, and are most likely to become victims of aggressive driving or harassment. Unfortunately, many motorists believe that the roads were created exclusively for the use of four-wheelers and passenger cars, and many do not respect bicyclist rights. Despite encouraging everyone to “share the road,” not all do.
The ordinance, therefore, goes even further to protect bicyclists from such dangerous actions by motorists. It bans a number of unsafe behaviors by motorists, including drivers throwing things at bicyclists, or making unsafe turns in front of bicyclists. Drivers who operate a car in a manner that could be construed as causing intimidation and harassment would also be subject to stiff penalties under the ordinance.
The ordinance is expected to be passed within the next couple of months. According to Councilman Lambert, it was inspired by a number of incidents involving bicyclists around Georgia that have resulted in serious or fatal injury to bicyclists. Bicycle safety advocates around the state have been calling for strong laws that protect vulnerable road users like bicyclists. The population of bicyclists in Atlanta has risen, but state laws to protect these road users have not kept pace with the increased demand and need for such protections. As a result, far too many bicycle accidents are reported across Georgia, especially the metro Atlanta region, every year.
The roads are meant for the use of all, including vulnerable users such as bicyclists and pedestrians. But, the number of fatalities involving cyclists and pedestrians has risen, even as the number of fatalities involving motorists and other road users has dropped. That isn’t to say that bicyclists and pedestrians are not subject to state traffic safety laws. But even while they do obey traffic laws and ride or walk in bike lanes or safe zones created especially for them, they still are at risk from motorists who fail to respect their rights to use the roads.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident in the metro Atlanta region or around Georgia, speak to an Atlanta bicycle accident lawyer at the Katz Law Firm about your rights to full and fair compensation for your losses incurred in the accident. These damages could include medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering and other damages. Talk to an attorney at our firm and discuss your case.