The key feature of the bill that had most cycling advocates pushing for its approval was quantifying the phrase “safe passing distance” to be three (3) feet when motorists are passing a bicycle travelling in the same direction on a road, bike lane or bike path, aka, the 3-foot law.
There are several other key changes to Georgia’s woefully outdated bicycle-related statute, Section 40-1-1 of Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated that include:
Paragraph 6.1: Clearly defines what constitutes a Bicycle Lane, to include markings and noting their intended purpose is the exclusive use by cyclists
Paragraph 6.2: Clearly defines a Bicycle Path as a right of way for cyclists on designated routes.
Paragraph 6.3: Added to provide a definition and description of a Bicycle Trailer.
40-6-55.30: Added to clarify that motor vehicle operators shall yield to cyclists riding in a Bike Lane.
40-6-56.35: Added with a subsection (a) that defines the term “Safe Distance” to mean not less than three feet, with the subsection (b) stating that “when feasible” (can you say legal loophole?) motor vehicle operators will leave a “safe distance” between their vehicle and a cyclist traveling in the same direction when overtaking the cyclist.
40-6-290.44 & 40-6-291.48: Clarifies the applicability of the laws and related penalties to cyclists, but more importantly, includes a subsection (b) that says cyclists may elect to ride on the paved shoulder of road, but are not required to ride on said paved shoulder, and (c) makes it legal for a cyclist to signal a right turn by using either an outstretched right arm or the traditional, auto-based left-arm raised at a right angle.
40-6-292.59: This code and its subsections update a few basic rules regarding passengers (and children) on bikes that include: (a) a prohibition for carry a passenger on a bike’s handlebars, (b) a more general prohibition for carrying more passengers than a bike is designed and equipped to carry, (c) prohibits carrying a child under the age of one (1) on a bicycle unless using a “bicycle trailer” or an infant sling used per the manufacturer’s instructions, (d) basically expands on the previous sub-section for children between the age of one (1) and four (4) to allow the additional use of child seats, but in (e) goes on to say that if someone doesn’t properly carry a child on a bicycle and something bad happens, the failure to follow that law can’t be used as prima fascia evidence of neglect or liability and in (f) goes on to say that anyone under the age of 16 who fails to properly carry a child on a bicycle and something bad happens, they won’t be subject to fines or imprisonment.
40-6-293.86: Prohibition on skitching or skitch-hiking.
40-6-294.89: Deals with taking the lane and defines in subsection (a) what constitute ‘hazards to safe cycling’, then in (b) gets into the requirement for cyclists to ride as near to the right side of the road as practicable except when (1) turn left, (2) avoiding hazards to safe cycling, (3) taking the lane of a narrow road, (4) moving with the flow of traffic, (5) passing a slower moving or standing vehicle headed in the same direction, (6) moving to a thru-lane at an intersection with a right-turn lane, and then following the rules of the road and otherwise riding in the lane with due care.
Also buried in this code is a sub-section (b)(c) that club riders need to be attentive to, which is a prohibition on riding more than two abreast on public roads…. except when riding on a Bicycle Lane or Path or under the provisions of a special permit.
And, in sub-section (c)(d) is another zinger that has me worried about our long-term access to public roads which notes, governing authorities may require cyclists to use Bicycle Paths adjacent to roads, unless cyclists can make the argument that the Bicycle Path is not suitable for various reasons.
Sub-section (d)(e) is interesting in that it says in essence Bike Paths will get you where you need to go and be properly maintained.
Sub-section (f) says Bike Path users will travel with the flow of traffic.
Sub-section (g)(h) says electric-assisted bicycles can use Bicycle Paths.
40-6-295.129: Cyclists must be able to keep at least one hand on the bars at all times.
40-6-295.132: Sub-section (a) says bikes used at night must have a headlight that can be seen from 300′ and a red tail light that can be seen from 300′ and/or a red rear reflector approved by the Dept. of Public Safety.
Sub-section (b) contains the somewhat dubious “Schwinn Typhoon” coaster brake test requirement for being able to skid a wheel on dry, level pavement. Passing that test would cost most road cyclists a tire.
Sub-section (c) says no ape-hanger bars on bikes.
Sub-section (d) was removed; this is what essentially made certain recumbent bicycles illegal in Georgia.
Sub-section (e)(1) – (6) pertains to the bicycle helmet laws, i.e., all kids under 16-years, ANSI or Snell-approved helmets, worn properly, required for lease / rental to kids under 16, etc., where failure to comply is not deemed to be prima fascia evidence of negligence or liability and no one under 16 will be fined or imprisoned for failing to comply.
40-6-297.166: This provision pertaining to a requirement for bicycles sold with pedals to have approved reflectors has been removed, i.e., this is what is interpreted to mean clipless pedals are no longer illegal.