Georgia Bicycle Laws vs Florida Bicycle Laws: You Will Shock After Know
2020 is different from every other year we’ve lived. Because of COVID-19 and limits on public health, some flights and events have been canceled. But not all kinds of fun are off limits! Many health experts say that cycling is a great way to stay healthy during the pandemic because it gets you outside and is safer than doing things inside.
Because of COVID-19, a lot of Floridians have chosen to drive on holidays and weekend trips. Georgia is the state closest to Florida. It’s a great place to go cycling for a holiday or just one day. There are some great places to ride a bike in Georgia. For road bikers, North Georgia has a milder temperature, long, steep climbs, and beautiful scenery.
One of the most beautiful rail tracks in the United States is the Silver Comet Trail, which runs from Atlanta to the Alabama state line. People on bikes can ride around Jekyll Island or try to climb the Sidney Lanier Bridge, which is longer than any of our local bridges, in just over an hour from Jacksonville.
You went to Georgia for a short trip to ride your bike. What exactly are Georgia’s rules for riding a bike? Do you not have to follow them since you don’t know what they are? “Ingorantia legis neminem excusat” is a well-known Latin term used by lawyers. “Ignorance of the law doesn’t excuse anyone” You should know the rules now that you’re riding a bike in Georgia.
You cannot say that you didn’t know about a cycling rule and then break it. Here’s a quick look at how the rules in Florida compare to these. The law in both Florida and Georgia says that bicycles are cars. Cyclists must follow all state laws that apply to drivers, as well as any special laws that apply to bikes.
Bicycle Law About Riding on Sidewalk
Do not walk on the path! (based on numbers, it’s less safe). In Georgia, people on bikes aren’t allowed on the sidewalk. Bicyclists can use Florida sidewalks unless a city law says they can’t, like in Jax Beach. In Florida, you have to let people walk first when riding on the path.
Bicycle Law for Wearing a Helmet
Only people under 16 years old must wear a helmet when riding a bike or an e-bike in Florida and Georgia. (None of the states make bikers older than 18 wear helmets, but some do make e-bike riders of all ages wear helmets.)
Bike Lanes Bicycle Law
People who ride bikes must stay in the bike lane or, if there isn’t one, as close to the right edge of the road as possible in Florida and Georgia.
- When turning left,
- When trying to stay away from dangers like road debris or
- When riding in a lane that is too small for you and a car to share safely. (It’s interesting that in Alabama, you have to ride on the far right all the time!)
Night Riding Bicycle Law
In Florida and Georgia, riders must have lights on their bikes from dusk until dawn. In Florida, you need to be able to see a red taillight from 500 feet away and a white headlight from 600 feet away. In Georgia, you can only see the lights from 300 feet away.
Fixed Gear Bike Brake Law
Florida and Georgia both don’t let people ride “fixie” bikes or bikes with locked gears that don’t have brakes. Different states have different rules about what kinds of bike brakes are legal. In Florida, bikes must have a brake that lets the rider stop the bike within 25 feet on dry, level, clean ground going 10 miles per hour. When riding a bike in Georgia, you have to have a brake that lets you make the wheels skid on smooth, flat ground.
Road Grate Law for Bikes
Last but not least, Florida should copy Georgia’s great bike law. Georgia passed a law that said every county and municipal company had to put in new road grates that were safe for bikes starting in July 1978. How great that you don’t have to worry about dropping your wheel into the depths!
Now that you know about these bike rules in Florida and Georgia, it’s your turn. You can get some miles in by putting the bike on your car and taking the short drive. It’s important to know when you cross the state line so you can stay off the path (which you probably already do)! Wear a helmet, adjust your brakes, and put on your bike lights at night.
Christopher Burns is a lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida, who has been protecting the rights of cyclists all over the southeast of the United States for 35 years. He also works hard to support cyclists. For many years, he was the chair of his local Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee and gives time to a number of riding advocacy groups.