There are currently three bills related to bicycles going through the Georgia Legislature:
HB 71 – Sidewalks
House Bill 71 does two things: It provides for the requirement that vehicles yield to bicycles as well as pedestrians on sidewalks. It also allows operation of bicycles by persons older than 12 on the sidewalks, something that has been prohibited in Georgia to date.
Interestingly, I believe from crash statistics that is actually more dangerous to operate your bicycle on a sidewalk than on a street. That’s because of the number of times you have to cross alleys and streets and driveways.
This one I support, although I think people need to be trained to ride their bikes in the street and not on the sidewalk. Leave the sidewalk for the pedestrians
HB 101 – Bike Lanes and Definitions
House Bill 101 does several worthy things and several bad things. I do not support this legislation in its current form.
- The bill defines and specifies what a “Bicycle Lane” is, and requires that any bicycle lane meet national standards for construction and design. I approve.
- The bill requires motor vehicles to yield to bicycles in a bicycle lane and specifically outlaws “imped[ing] the bicycle lane from bicycle traffic.” That is for those people who like to drive in bike lanes. I approve.
- The bill further prohibits parking in a bike lane. I approve.
- The bill allows for the operation of bicycles on a paved shoulder but specifically says that it is not required. I approve.
- The bill allows for signaling of turns with either arm, and does not require continuous signaling, if the hands are needed. I approve.
- The bill calls for riding as far right as practicable except to avoid hazards or for other conditions as defined. I somewhat do not approve.
- The bill specifically prohibits the transportation of a child under one year of age in a bicycle or bicycle trailer. I do not approve.
- The bill allows for local authorities to prohibit bikes from a roadway and require them to use the adjacent bicycle path unless “…petitioned to remove restrictions upon demonstration that the bicycle path has become inadequate due to capacity, maintenance, or other causes.” I do not approve.
The section about riding as far right as practicable I’m hesitant about, but they could beef it up with some additional language and I’d be happy. The reason for my ambiguity is a personal example of riding. I want to make a left on a three lane road. I don’t want to have to sit in the right lane until the last minute and then cut across traffic. The safe way is to merge over to the left lane a distance back from the turn and ride up to the left turn location. This gives maximum visibility to me and maximum predictability of my actions to drivers.
The part about not allowing cyclists to bring their babies with them is just crap pure and simple. Sure, I support the general idea that it’s not safe to bring your baby with you, but to prohibit it is getting into personal rights territory. Of interest, Rep. McKillip, the bill’s sponsor, is the Athens Democrat who recently defected to the Republicans. If I want to bring my baby with me on my bike, or if I have to, because that’s the only method I have of getting around, that is my call.
The part about allowing local jurisdictions to prohibit bikes on roadways if there is an adjacent bike path shows that Rep. McKillip doesn’t ride very much on bike paths. Most of the time, you wouldn’t want half of the bikers on the bike path because they’re going too fast, and those paths tend to have pedestrians and strollers and roller bladers who really don’t appreciate me buzzing past at 20 mph. Plus, those paths are the first ones to fill up with debris. If you provide me a path that is well maintained and safe for me, I’ll use it, but please don’t require me to.
HB 180 – Safe Clearance
Lastly, House Bill 180 is a “safe clearance” bill requiring three feet of clearance between motor vehicles and bicycles during passing maneuvers. I approve.