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Georgia legislators scuttle bike regulations bill

Published October 8, 2013

GAINESVILLE, GA (BRAIN) — Legislation proposed by three Republican state lawmakers, dubbed the most draconian ever introduced in the nation to restrict cyclist rights, has been effectively scuttled. 

More than 250 people filled a meeting room Tuesday night to voice their concern over the proposed bill, said Brent Buice, Georgia Bike’s executive director. “We see this as a big victory. No one will ever introduce a bill like this again—it really stirred up a hornet’s nest,” he added.

The bill had zero chance of passing either the Georgia House or Senate, much less being signed into law by the governor, Buice said. The bill had been introduced at the end of last year’s legislative session. But under Georgia’s legislative procedures it remains alive for two years.

“A talk radio station was looking at pending legislation and found it and started talking about it. A cyclist heard the broadcast and it went viral from there,” Buice said. “We were well aware of it, and had been following it, and we knew it had no chance. When it hit social media, we had to play catch-up; we were drowned out by all the publicity."

Essentially, the bill would have imposed a $15 fee on all bicycles and require that they be registered with the state. In addition, riders would be banned from cycling two abreast; stringent spacing requirements would mandate that no more than four riders could ride in a single-file line and they would need to maintain a four-foot distance between each rider; and if there were more than four riders, the next group must maintain at least a 50-foot distance between the front group. It also would have allowed city, county and state agencies to ban cycling on selected roads.

The three legislators who introduced the bill “stepped into a big pile of it” and were forced to hold a public hearing in Gainesville, the county seat for Hall County, Buice said. 

The county, approximately 50 miles northeast of Atlanta and 100 miles southwest of Greenville, South Carolina, is a mecca for cyclists who come to ride on the rolling hills and mountain byways of the southernmost section of the Appalachian mountains.

While the legislators have agreed to drop the bill, Buice said some cyclists have generated a fair amount of animosity in the region. “There is definitely some antagonism toward cyclists. This is a very politically conservative region. People want to drive their pickups as fast as they want even around blind corners,” he said. “They really don’t want to slow down.”

On the other hand, some cyclists refuse to “comport” themselves in a respectful manner. “They don’t know how to ride; they don’t know what the law is. And there is always that 10 percent of drivers who, if they have to tap their brakes for cyclists, get apoplectic,” Buice said. “It makes advocacy really tough.”

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