A word from Sumter Cycling: The rules of the road

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Laws for bicyclists in Georgia state that bicycles are vehicles and thus have the same rights and responsibilities on public roads as motor vehicles.  Some of the rules were reviewed in last month’s article.  This feature continues that discussion with additional “rules of the road.”
No person over the age of twelve is authorized to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk or a sidewalk area except upon a permanent or duly authorized driveway.
A bicyclist shall not carry any package or bundle, or other article which prevents him/her from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.
Speaking of handlebars, no bicycle  shall be equipped or operated with handlebars raised to such an extent that the operator of the bike must elevate his/her hands above his shoulders in order to grasp the normal steering position.
When riding a bicycle at night, the bike must be equipped with a white front light visible from a distance of 300 feet and with a red rear light visible from a distance of 300 feet or a red rear reflector. Additional lights and/or reflectors are authorized and highly encouraged to enhance the cyclist’s safety.
Safety is further enhanced by this next rule…a bicycle rider or passenger under the age of 16 must wear a bicicle helmet. The helmet must be of a good fit, is fastened securely on the head and must meet nationally recognized standards for helmet safety.
Every bicycle sold and ridden shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level pavement.
Bicyclists must obey all applicable traffic control devices such as traffic signals, signs and markings on the road. Except when directed by a police officer, every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign shall stop at a clearly marked stop line. After stopping, the operator shall yield the right of way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another roadway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard. The driver approaching a yield sign shall slow down to a speed reasonable for existing conditions, and if required for safety to stop at a clearly marked stop line. The operator shall also slow down if there is no stop line, before entering a crosswalk and before entering an intersecting roadway where the operator has a view of approaching traffic. After slowing down or stopping, the operator shall yield the right of way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on anther roadway so closely as to pose an immediate hazard. If a bicyclist goes past a yield sign without slowing or stopping, and the result is a collision with a vehicle, the collision shall be deemed evidence of the failure of the cyclist to yield the right of way.
Whenever a cyclist needs to turn or to stop, signaling is required. This can be accomplished either using the hand and arm or by signal lights attached to the bicycle. If the rider needs to use both hands to control the bicycle, the signal does not have to be given continuously. Hand signals are outlined:
– Left turn signal – left hand and arm extend horizontally from the body
– Right turn signal – right hand and arm extended horizontally away from the body OR left arm and hand extended and then bend the elbow making a right angle. The result is the right hand is extended upward parallel with the head.
– Stop or slow down – left hand and arm extended downward. This is accomplished by extending the left arm and hand, then making a right angle with the hand facing downward. This is the opposite action from a right hand turn signal.
The laws and guidance are provided by Georgia Bikes, Inc., a nonprofit organization promoting bicycling and working to improve bicycling conditions throughout Georgia. For local bicycling information, join the Sumter Cycling Facebook group.  Also check out the Instagram and Twitter feeds using the handle @sumtercycling to learn about organized cycling events in our area.
Keep riding safely… See you on the road!
– Submitted by Sumter Cycling