Biking is a great way to get around, but in a city like Atlanta, it’s also full of risks. Our traffic is notorious. Our roads are often narrow, beyond capacity, and full of potholes. And our drivers … well, they may not always be the most courteous.
But there’s also a changing tone in how we talk and think about bikers and bike safety in Atlanta. Along with the ever-expanding urban trail systems, you’re more likely than ever to see dedicated bike lanes, secure storage options, and compatibility with public transport.
Whether you’re looking to save money on gas, reduce your carbon footprint, get some exercise, or just enjoy the occasional breeze on your commute, city biking is a possibility for confident, safety-oriented riders. But before you strap on your helmet, (a bike safe Atlanta must!), make sure you’re ready for the road with these tips.
Tip #1 – Assume no one sees you
Our own Arman Deganian drove this point home in his recent post about motorcycling, but the same holds true for bikes: Assume drivers don’t see you. Try your best to make sure they do by wearing bright, reflective clothing. Add lights to both the front and back of your ride. Stay out of drivers’ right-side blind spots as much as possible, and always assume they may take sudden right turns.
Tip #2 – Know the laws
By following bike laws in Atlanta, you’re much more likely to have a safe ride and help break down the prejudices some drivers hold against cyclists. In Georgia, a bike is legally a vehicle, so all general road laws apply, (although not those for a “motor vehicle”). Some you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Ride as near to the right side as possible unless you’re moving with traffic, making a left turn, passing a standing vehicle, or avoiding a hazard.
- Don’t ride more than two abreast except when on paths or bike lanes.
- Don’t ride on the sidewalk.
- Drivers are required to give you three feet of space when passing.
Also, a note on bike helmet safety in Georgia: While helmets are only required for those 16 and under, you’ll definitely want to wear one at all times.
Tip #3 – Don’t get too comfortable in the bike lane
It’s great to see new bike lanes popping up throughout town—they give cyclists extra room and sometimes even a physical barrier to protect them from cars. But it’s a bad idea to think of them as a safe space. Drivers may drift into bike lanes or cut them off when making right turns. Parked cars pose a hazard to your right side with the potential for suddenly opening doors. Bike lanes are a good step for any city, but they’re not a place to let down your guard.
Tip #4 – Use the right gear
Biking in the city is a whole different ball game than trail riding. Choose the right bike—a commuter or road bike—and make sure it fits you by having someone at a bike shop check it out. Use a U-lock to secure your bike, (removing any parts that a thief could easily take), and be sure to place the lock around both the frame and the rear wheel. Carry a repair kit for on-the-road tire patching, and periodically give your bike a tune-up or take it to a shop.
Biking can be a fun way to get around town while also getting some exercise, but it takes skill and practice to become a truly safe, aware rider. CityLab offers some safety drills to practice likely dangerous scenarios. If you’re just starting out, take side streets and quieter roads. Stay safe, and enjoy your ride through Atlanta!
If you’ve been injured in a crash while riding your bicycle, you’ll need an Atlanta personal injury attorney. At Litner + Deganian, we can help get you the compensation you deserve. Contact your personal injury attorney in Atlanta, GA, today for a free consultation.