SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety visited the Hostess City Thursday during the first-ever Capital to Coast 2021 statewide bicycle safety tour. 

The tour visited Atlanta, Athens and Macon earlier in the week and will finish in Brunswick Friday, offering safety tips, educational messages, and a daily ride for bicyclists.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) designates May as National Bicycle Safety Month — a time when more people are returning to outdoor activities like bicycling. Americans and Georgians alike are increasingly riding bicycles to commute, exercise or just for fun. 

Whether it’s riding for recreation or a destination, Capital to Coast 2021 is a time to remind drivers to watch for bicyclists on the road and to give plenty of room when passing bicycle riders.

The statewide tour offers bicyclists information on how to pick the right safety helmet, inspect their bicycle for any mechanical issues and provide other safety information like sharing the road safely with other vehicles.

“The most important thing is practice,” Bicycle Planner for the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Kathryn Curtis said. “So you want to make sure as a biker you’re still sharing the road and you want to make sure as a motorist that you’re cognizant of what’s happening around you.”

“Helmet safety is really important as well as generalized bike safety,” she added. “To decrease fatalities is our ultimate goal.”

Cyclist fatalities are still rising in Georgia. In 2019, 846 cyclists were killed in traffic crashes across America and 20 of those deaths occurred in Georgia. The number of bicycle deaths in Georgia in the last five years has increased by 23 percent.

According to NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, there were 118 bicyclist fatalities in Georgia from 2015-19, compared to 96 from 2010-14.

Safety tips for motorists:

  • Obey Georgia’s 3-Feet-Law, which requires motorists to give a reasonable distance of at least three feet when overtaking a cyclist to pass and to maintain that distance until safely past the cyclist.
  • Yield to bicyclists as you would motorists and do not underestimate their speed. Avoid turning in front of a bicyclist who is traveling on the road, often at an intersection or driveway.
  • In parking lots, at stop signs, when backing up, or when parking, search your surroundings for other vehicles, including bicycles.
  • Drivers turning right on red should look to the right and behind to avoid hitting a bicyclist approaching from the right rear. Stop completely and look left-right-left and behind before turning right on red.
  • Obey the speed limit, reduce speed for road conditions, and drive defensively to avoid a crash with a cyclist.

Safety tips for cyclists:

  • Wear equipment to protect you and make you more visible to others including a helmet, bright clothing, reflective gear, and a white front light and red rear light on your bike.
  • Do not ride on the sidewalk. Georgia law prohibits anyone over the age of 12 from riding a bicycle on the sidewalk unless allowed by local ordinance.
  • Drive in the same direction as traffic.
  • Bicycles are legally classified as vehicles in Georgia so obey street signs, signals, and road markings just like you would if driving a car.