Last week, an amendment to an existing law pertaining to “the riding of bicycles on roadways and bicycle paths” was filed in the Senate by Sen. Miller of the 49th (SB 468).
Under existing law, persons riding bicycles upon a roadway are not allowed to ride more than two abreast except on bicycle paths or lanes or parts of the road set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles or when a special event permit is issued (like the events Albany hosts annually).
In short, under current law if you are riding a bicycle with a group and your group is riding on a road that does not have a designated bicycle path or lane, you cannot ride more than two abreast.
This would change under the amendment. If it passes, the amendment will require that all persons riding bicycles on roadways in Georgia shall ride single file. The exceptions to this will again be on bicycle paths or lanes or parts of the road set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles or when a special event permit is issued.
I think most safety-conscious cyclists do this anyway. I recall my days at Camp Safety Patrol, up near Cordele, when most of the campers had to take a bicycle safety class. We were between 8 and 10 years of age. It was basic back then that the safe way to ride a bicycle was single file.
If you were side by side and one of you fell toward your friend(s) riding alongside, then two or more cyclists would be wiped out. Of course, on a road with heavy traffic, it could lead to falling in front of a two-ton motor vehicle with disastrous results.
I do occasionally see bicycle groups riding much more than two abreast, but also see motor vehicles cutting it far too close to cyclists riding on the side of the road. The legislative intent on this bill looks like the goal is improving safety on our roads.
This bill was co-sponsored by four other members of the Senate, including one committee chair. It is late in the session and the bill has to move quickly to pass, so we will see whether or not cyclists will soon face blue lights on roadways for ignoring what may become a new law and riding side by side.
Maybe more people should have gone to Camp Safety Patrol?
Michael Meyer von Bremen is an Albany attorney and partner with Hall, Booth, Smith & Slover. A former state senator, he represented the 12th Senate District, which includes Albany, for a decade. He writes a column periodically during the legislative session on issues facing the General Assembly.