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Georgia advocates, retailers fight proposed cycling regulations

Published October 7, 2013

GAINESVILLE, GA (BRAIN) — It’s unlikely that a draconian piece of legislation severely limiting the rights of cyclists and imposing an across the board registration fee on all bicycles in Georgia will be signed into law. Nonetheless, cycling advocates are taking no chances and will voice strong disapproval of the proposed legislation at a public hearing Monday night.

Dan Thornton, owner of Free-Flite Bicycles, a three-store operation in the greater Atlanta area, said this is the second time this legislation has surfaced. “It won’t go anywhere,” he predicted. But Thornton said he hopes to make it to the public hearing in Gainesville to make his views known.

“This came up last year and it was beat down. We thought it was dead. But it’s come up again,” said Thornton, a Georgia Bikes board member with the advocacy group. The proposed legislation resurfaced about five days ago, he added.

Some of the proposed restrictions would require all bicycle owners to pay a $15 registration fee; 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.

The proposed legislation by three state Republicans, Georgia House Bill 689, would also allow government agencies to put public roads off limits to people riding bikes. 

The hearing, called for by Georgia State Representative Carl Rogers, is being held in a Hall County meeting room from 6 to 8 p.m. It’s expected to attract numerous cycling advocates as well as local motorists who want cyclists either off the region’s narrow mountain roads or to be strictly limited in how they ride.

Thornton said the roads winding through the mountains comprise some of the best cycling in the region, attracting scores of cyclists from throughout the state and region. The region has in the past hosted the Tour of Georgia as well as an annual century that attracts upwards of 3,000 riders.

But, Thornton acknowledged, some cyclists fail to adhere to some common sense rules for riding on narrow, winding roads. “There’s a lot of frustrations among drivers who live there,” he said.


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