Riding a bike is a fantastic way to save money and reduce pollution. Unfortunately, you may have also heard that bicycle accidents are relatively frequent. If you want to recover damages from a bicycle accident, then you need to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. Still, that lawsuit would only be beneficial if you were acting within your rights as a cyclist. That means following the rules of the road.
One of the biggest questions cyclists have about riding on the road is whether or not they are allowed to. Are they allowed to ride in a traffic lane or only on the shoulder of the road? The answer to that question is a little bit more complicated than you might have imagined. Don’t worry. We’ll be getting to the bottom of it today.
To begin with, we’ll look at where a bicyclist should ride when in Gwinnett county. Then we’ll look at when exceptions to that general rule may be necessary, such as when turning left or avoiding an obstacle. Finally, we’ll look at some ways that cyclists can stay safe while enjoying their right to ride.
Where Should Bicyclists Ride in Gwinnett County?
The law defines bicycles as a vehicle, which means that bicyclists have the same responsibilities as a driver of a motor vehicle. Following the posted speed limit, signaling when turning, and all the like are expected of a bicyclist, and a failure to abide by these rules can result in fines or felonies, depending on the circumstances. But in addition to these responsibilities, bicyclists have additional responsibilities to live up to.
A cyclist has as much right to the road as a car does, so they may ride in a traffic lane. Bicyclists can ride singularly or two abreast in a lane, but no more. This assumes that the cyclists are riding at the posted speed limit. In cases where a bicyclist is going under the speed limit, they should ride as close to the right of the road as possible. The exception to this last part is when that bicyclist needs to turn, avoid hazards, or is riding in a substandard-width lane.
A bicyclist is not allowed to ride on the sidewalk. However, there is an exception to this for those bicyclists who are under the age of 12. Additionally, bike lanes are for the exclusive use of bicyclists, though Georgia law doesn’t force a bicyclist to use them. Local ordinances, however, may require bicyclists to do so.
Bicyclists must ride in the same direction as the flow of traffic, not against it. This is true even if the bicyclist is using a bike lane rather than a traffic lane.
What are the Rules Bicyclists Must Follow for Overtaking Cars, Turning, and Other Maneuvers?
As mentioned above, bicycles are only allowed to ride two abreast in a lane. This is not the case, however, when riding on paths that are exclusively used for bicycles. Note that these are roads for the exclusive use of bikes, not just roads that happen to also include a bike lane.
A bicyclist must follow the rules of the road. That means stopping at any stop sign and stopping for red lights. It also means following the posted speed limit. While a bicyclist who is going under the speed limit must stick as close to the right-hand side of the road as possible, they are allowed to move into a turning lane should they have to take a left-hand turn.
When taking a left-hand turn, and in other plenty of other situations, it is important for bicyclists to use hand signals as a way of signaling their intention to other motorists or bicyclists who are sharing the road. Additionally, bicyclists must signal when they are coming to a stop.
A bicyclist may pass a vehicle on the right if there is room to do some safely. If there is no way to do so safely on the right, then passing must occur on the left. When a car overtakes a bicycle, they are supposed to stay at least three feet away from the bicyclist. However, it often happens that motorists ignore this rule. This can, and often does, result in a bicycle accident.
How Can a Cyclist Stay Safe on Roadways in Gwinnett County?
Gwinnett County recommends that cyclists stay safe by:
- When riding with friends, ride side-by-side rather than in a line, as this makes it easier for motorists to spot you.
- Keep your bicycle in good condition. Brakes don’t help you if you don’t ensure they’re working correctly. Make sure your bicycle is in proper working condition, the same way you would with a motor vehicle.
- Wear protective gear. A helmet is the best piece of safety equipment you can wear, and statistics show that they are often literally the difference between life and death.
- Make sure to follow the rules of the road. This is both good as legal advice and as safety advice.
- Learn the appropriate hand signals. You are required to use hand signals, so make sure you learn them all and use them correctly. Giving the wrong hand signal before a maneuver could cost you a lot of money in the long run.
- Make eye contact with motorists when turning. This ensures that the drivers see you before you turn rather than assuming you’ve been seen, which can be deadly.
- Wear bright colors to increase your visibility. The easier you are to see, the harder it is for a motorist to miss you and cause you a personal injury.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been in a Bicycle Accident?
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident, the first thing to do is seek medical care. You want to make sure that you have any injuries looked at quickly. This is good for your health, but it is also good for any future legal action you may take.
If the accident was due to another party’s negligence, then you will also want to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney that takes on bicycle accidents. They will be able to help you put together a compelling case as to why you deserve compensation for your injuries and that earlier medical care you got will help to prove that your injuries were directly tied to the accident in question.