Georgia State Representatives Carl Rogers (R-29th), Lee Hawkins (R-27th) and Emory Dunahoo (R-30th) think bicyclists are a problem and they need to be controlled. They have sponsored Georgia House Bill 689 that, if passed, will require all cyclists to register each of their bicycles for $15 each and ride single file in groups of no more than four. The bill also makes it easier for state and local authorities to restrict bicycle traffic on Georgia roads.
The trio will be holding the one and only hearing on this proposed bill in Gainesville Monday night (10/7) at the Hall County Government Center from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the Commission Meeting Room. I intend to be there. I’d love for you to join me.
I sent all three representatives an e-mail asking them to explain why they would sponsor such a bill. Rep. Lee Hawkins was the only one to reply to me so far. This is what he said.
I have always considered patient and constituent safety to be of the upmost importance. HB689 was dropped to address the safety issues concerning both cyclist and motorist. As a delegation, we have had numerous complaints from motorist who are concerned about these safety issues. Some of the complaints had become very heated. I was asked to sign on to this legislation as a response to the concerns of these constituents. It would be irresponsible to ignore this issue until we are forced to do so by resulting fatalities. While I do not support tag fees for bikes, it does address a recurring complaint of identifying those cyclist who are creating a safety issue for themselves and motorist who will be ultimately responsible for an accident. While the vast majority of riders are thoughtful and courteous of motorists and other bicyclists , there are those who are not so thoughtful, resulting in dangerous situations. I have had complaints by individuals of bicyclists who attempt to prevent motorists from passing them by moving to the left as the car comes around them. I have personally seen this occur and saw the truck turn back so as to speak to the folks on the bikes. I live on a road which is often used by cyclists and 95% are single file on the right shoulder, causing no problems and enjoying the day. Frankly, I like to see them out and often wish I was one of them.
Although the present law addresses the issue of riding close to the right side of the lane, there are exemptions, one being a narrow lane road, which allows the rider to ride more to the center. It does not designate nor describe a narrow lane road and thus becomes the opinion of the rider. There are those who are reporting bicyclists who are riding 3 or more abreast forcing motorist to cross center lines in order to pass them.
While this is a seldom occurrence, it does become a great concern for the safety for all.
The legislation was drafted to bring focus to the concerns of the before mentioned citizens, to promote safety, and provide for a method of identifying those who are not obeying the present laws. At the very least, we will hold hearings to allow citizens to voice their opinions and explore amiable solutions.
Representative Lee Hawkins
I appreciate Rep. Hawkins reply but it tells me he knows little about cycling. I would love to grant him his wish and take him out on a group ride. Yes, I agree with him that some cyclist cause problems but those riders are few, especially when compared to the problems caused by motorists who are oblivious to anyone by themselves and their own schedules.