As the warm weather is approaching, we tend to spend more time enjoying the outdoors. The sun starts to shine and we come out from the depths of winter like bears that have been hibernating. Local traveling in the car goes from driving with the heat blasting and seat warmers on to opened windows so you can take in the fresh air. Many opt for walking or biking this time of year. So what are the rules of the road when pedestrians and cyclists are involved?
In Georgia, as in most states, the bicycle is legally a “vehicle”. The “vehicle” classification means that general vehicular traffic law applies to bicycles and the operation of a bicycle. We often see bicyclists traveling on sidewalks through the city streets. According to Section 40-6-144 of the Georgia Code, “No person shall drive any vehicle upon a sidewalk or sidewalk area except upon a permanent or duly authorized driveway”. Excluding multi-use paths, sidewalks are designed for pedestrian travel. Use by cyclists can raise safety issues in the interaction between pedestrians and bicyclists, and also for vehicles entering/exiting access point along the roadway where motorists may not be anticipating a cyclist to be present.
All bicyclists should wear properly fitted bicycle helmets every time they ride. A helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash. Bicyclists are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.
-When cycling in the street, cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic.
-Drivers of motor vehicles need to share the road with bicyclists.
-Be courteous—allow at least three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road, look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space, and yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals.
-Be especially watchful for cyclists when making turns, either left or right.
-Bicyclists should increase their visibility to drivers by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing.
-To be noticed when riding at night, use a front light and a red reflector or flashing rear light, and use retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing.
As for pedestrians, the obligation to yield to person’s crossing the public streets depends upon the factual circumstances. This can include whether the location is controlled by a traffic signal, the existence of a marked crosswalk, and the proximity of the vehicle to the person attempting to cross the road when that person attempts to enter the roadway.
-Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
-Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
-Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
-Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections whenever possible. This is where drivers expect pedestrians. Look for cars in all directions – including those turning left or right. If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
-Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach you to make sure you are seen.
-Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
-Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
-Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and judgment too.
When traveling, regardless of whether you’re in a vehicle or just walking, the most important thing to remember is to be safe! Make cautious decision and be aware of your surroundings. If you have suffered and injury as a result of a bicycling or pedestrian accident, contact our knowledgeable accident attorneys today. They can help you get the claim you deserve. For a FREE consultation, call 770-217-4954.