Georgia Motor Vehicle Bicycle Laws Apply to Bicycles Generally (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-291)

Legal Commentary. This Georgia bicycle statute is an important one. The statute provides that the Georgia laws that cover traffic laws and safe motor vehicle operation apply to bicycles, except that the penalties applicable to the most serious motorized vehicle offenses, such as DUI and reckless driving, do not apply to bicycle drivers. As an Atlanta Georgia cycling injury and bicycle accident attorney, this makes sense to me. Even though a reckless or drunk driver of a bicycle is a menace who should be removed from the roads, that person does not represent the same threat to the general public as a drunk or reckless vehicle driver.

Subsection (b) of this statute provides that a cyclist, may, but is not required to ride upon a paved shoulder of a road. For safety’s sake, this seems very wise. A cyclist should have the right to use the road, but, where safety requires, she should have the authority to ride on the shoulder, especially in heavy traffic areas. Finally, the statute covers the proper signals for turning bicycles in Georgia. A right turn should be signaled with the right arm and hand extended horizontally or with his left hand and arm extended upward in an “L” shape. Although not covered, a left turn is usually indicated with the left arm and hand extended horizontally.

Bicycle accidents cause serious injuries and it is important that every Georgia cyclist properly signals his turns.

See the full text of the statute below:

Section 40-6-291 Provisions of chapter that apply to vehicles, but not exclusively to motor vehicles, to apply to bicycles; penalties not to apply to riders of bicycles

(a) The provisions of this chapter that apply to vehicles, but not exclusively to motor vehicles, shall apply to bicycles, except as provided in this Code section and 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.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of Code Section 40-6-50, any person operating a bicycle may ride upon a paved shoulder; provided, however, that such person shall not be required to ride upon a paved shoulder.

(c) Any person operating a bicycle may signal a right turn with his or her right arm and hand extended horizontally or with his or her left hand and arm extended upward.

HISTORY: Ga. L. 1973, p. 471, § 3; Code 1933, § 68A-1202, enacted by Ga. L. 1974, p. 633, § 1; Ga. L. 1978, p. 1483, § 4; Ga. L. 1988, p. 13, § 40; Ga. L. 1990, p. 2048, § 5; Ga. L. 2011, p. 426, § 3/HB 101.