MILTON, Ga. — The city of Milton has had three accidents between cars and bicycles reported since March of 2011 — one of the incidents included fatalities.
In an effort to decrease these related accidents, this month the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) adopted its complete streets policy.
The policy calls for GDOT to incorporate bicycle and alternative modes of transportation into transportation infrastructure projects statewide.
GDOT has been coordinating with local governments and regional planning agencies to ensure meeting the needs and safety of alternative modes of transportation.
But safety doesn’t stop with government.
Under state law, bicycles are considered vehicles and cyclists must adhere to the same traffic laws as drivers.
“I had no idea a cyclist was supposed to move into the center of the lane,” a Milton resident who did not want to give his name. “But I get frustrated when they ride four or five across in the middle of the road, whether it’s a no passing zone or not.” ”Georgia Bike Sense, A Guide for Cyclists and Motorists” is a publication provided by GDOT that explains proper road sharing and bicycle laws.
Milton roads offer a challenging, yet risky riding experience for cyclists.
Changes in elevation and curved roads require both drivers and cyclists to use caution.
Drivers must reduce speeds and stay in designated lanes on narrow roads or roads with limited vision.
Cyclists are required to move to the center of the lane, even if it requires traffic to slow. Cyclists can move back to the right once road conditions change.
Neither is allowed to pass except in designated passing zones.
Frustrations like this are common among drivers.
State laws state cyclists cannot ride two or more abreast on roadways except in areas designated exclusively for bicycles.
“Drivers don’t always know the laws regarding cyclists,” Todd Muller, owner of Reality Bikes, 20 Tri-County Plaza in Cumming.
Muller has been in two accidents with cars. Neither occurred in the city of Milton.
“The first was a hit and run in 1996, where the driver was so close his car clipped me on the foot,” he said.
Muller was thrown from the bike and rendered unconscious.
“When I woke up, my leg and foot were pointing in different directions.”
Georgia law requires drivers leave 3 feet of space between cars and cyclists.
Muller’s second accident involved a driver attempting to pass him illegally.
“I was on the far left side of the road, preparing to make a left turn,” he recalled. “The man wasn’t paying attention and went to pass me and hit me in the process of my turn.”
Muller has a rod, plate and 10 screws in his leg and hip from both accidents.
“Drivers and cyclists need to learn to share the road,” he said. “There is animosity between the two, but not all cyclists are idiots, and not all drivers are, either. It’s a matter of mutual respect and knowing the laws.”
Cyclist and pedestrian deaths account for 11.5 percent of car-related deaths in the Georgia.
Milton Chief of Police Deborah Harrell said the laws of Georgia are very clear in allowing cyclists to use the roadways.
“Every driver needs to be constantly vigilant of his or her surroundings, especially on Milton’s curvy two-lane roads,” Harrell said. “I want both cyclists and vehicle drivers to be safe, respectful of each other and obey all traffic laws.”
For the online booklet on sharing the road, visit www.dot.ga.gov.