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Laws Pertaining to Bicycles and Bicycling

Bicycles are legally classified as a vehicle in Georgia. This classification means that general traffic law applies to the operation of a bicycle. However, the vehicular code and various regulations include many specific qualifications for specific classes of vehicles. Wherever the code or regulation uses the phrase “vehicle,” that section applies to all vehicles, including bicycles. When the term “motor vehicle” is used, that portion does not apply to bicycles.

The following subsections of Georgia traffic law deall specifically with bicycle operation:

40-6-290: The provisions of this part applicable to bicycles shall apply whenever a bicycle is operated upon a highway or upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, subject to those exceptions stated in this part.

40-6-291: The provisions of this chapter that apply to vehicles, but not exclusively to motor vehicles, shall apply to bicycles, except that the penalties prescribed in subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-390,subsection (c) of Code Section 40-6-391, and subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-393 shall not apply to persons riding bicycles.

40-6-292: (a) A person propelling a bicycle shall not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto and shall allow no person to ride upon the handlebars.

(b) No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.
(c) No person shall transport a child under the age of one year as a passenger on a bicycle on a highway, roadway, bicycle path, bicycle lane, or sidewalk; provided, however, that a child under the age of one year may be transported on a bicycle trailer or in an infant sling so long as such child is seated in the bicycle trailer or carried in an infant sling according to the bicycle trailer’s or infant sling’s manufacturer’s instructions, and the bicycle trailer is properly affixed to the bicycle according to the bicycle trailer’s manufacturer’s instructions or the infant sling is properly worn by the rider of the bicycle according to the infant sling’s manufacturer’s instructions.

40-6-293: No person riding upon any bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled, or toy vehicle shall attach the same or himself to any vehicle upon a roadway.

40-6-294: (a) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, except when turning left or avoiding hazards to safe cycling, when the lane is too narrow to share safely with a motor vehicle, when traveling at the same speed as traffic, or while exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction; provided, however, that every person operating a bicycle away from the right side of the roadway shall exercise reasonable care and shall give due consideration to the other applicable rules of the road.

(c) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on bicycle paths, bicycle lanes, or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, or when a special event permit issued by a local governing authority permits riding more than two abreast.
(e) Electric assisted bicycles as defined in Code Section 40-1-1 may be operated on bicycle paths.

40-6-295: No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle, or other article which prevents him from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.

40-6-296: (a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a light on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the front and with a light on the back which shall emit a red light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear. Any bicycle equipped with a red reflector on the rear that is approved by the Department of Public Safety shall not be required to have a light on the rear of the bicycle.

(b) Every bicycle sold or operated shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level pavement.
(c) No bicycle shall be equipped or operated while equipped with a set of handlebars so raised that the operator must elevate his or her hands above his the operator’s shoulders in order to grasp the normal steering grip area.
(e)(1) No person under the age of 16 years shall operate or be a passenger on a bicycle on a highway, bicycle path, bicycle lane, or sidewalk under the jurisdiction or control of this state or any local political subdivision thereof without wearing a bicycle helmet.
(2) For the purposes of this subsection, the term ‘bicycle helmet’ means a piece of protective headgear which meets or exceeds the impact standards for bicycle helmets set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
(3) For the purposes of this subsection, a person shall be deemed to wear a bicycle helmet only if a bicycle helmet of good fit is fastened securely upon the such person’s head with the straps of the such bicycle helmet.
(4) No bicycle without an accompanying protective bicycle helmet shall be rented or leased to or for the use of any person under the age of 16 years unless that person is in possession of a bicycle helmet at the time of the rental or lease.
(5) Violation of any provision of this subsection shall not constitute negligence per se nor contributory negligence per se or be considered evidence of negligence or liability.
(6) No person under the age of 16 failing to comply with any provision of this subsection may shall be fined or imprisoned.

40-6-298: (a) It is a misdemeanor for any person to do any act forbidden or fail to perform any act required in this part.

(b) The parent of any child and the guardian of any ward shall not authorize or knowingly permit such child or ward to violate any of the provisions of this part.

40-6-299: The Board of Public Safety is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations to carry this part into effect and is authorized to establish regulations for any additional safety equipment or standards it shall require for bicycles.