Bicycles and Stop Controls in Georgia

Some of you may have seen me post a variation of this in the past. If you have, feel free to move along.  However, it remains a question I see asked with incredible frequency, and while this is specific to Georgia, most of it applies throughout the US. 

First, let us address two legal subjects that bring the most confusion.

Can bicycles in Georgia proceed on a red light if they wait a cycle and do not trigger the light?


The so called Dead Red Law was proposed in 2015, where it passed both the House and Senate ( SB 72 ). It was however Vetoed by Governor Nathan Deal, and thus never became law in Georgia. 

Can bicycles treat Stop signs as Yield signs in Georgia?


The Idaho Stop law has never been brought up for legislation in Georgia, so as vehicles, absent special consideration, there is no law granting privileges differing from cars with regards to stop signs or lights.

Those things are very clear.  But let us continue down the rabbit hole and discuss stopping, what defines a stop, and how it impacts us as cyclists.

What constitutes a stop?

Turns out, Georgia law does not go out of its way to define a full stop.  However, the Georgia drivers manuals do.  The wheels must come to a full and complete stop.  Motorcycle manuals take that a step further and include a foot down on the ground, with a count of 4.  For cyclists, law enforcement typically uses the motorcycle approach.

Those that can stop and hold a track stand, can still be cited for failure to stop by virtue of not putting a foot on the ground.  

Groups are doing it wrong.

By law, a group of cyclists is not a single vehicle and does not have the right to proceed through a stop control as a group.  The reality is that if a group is riding single file, they should stop, and proceed one x one, per the stop rotation giving way to crossing and an oncoming traffic as if each bike is a car.  If the group is traveling two abreast, they should stop in pairs, and proceed in two abreast pairs, per the stop rotation.  This is the letter of the law implementation. It is inconvenient for both the ride groups and the drivers around them for bikes to do this, but it is the letter of the law methodology.  It is the behavior that drivers think they want when they complain about groups not stopping.

In practice, the lead riders stopping, and the group rolling as one is the most efficient and least disruptive model, however, it is absolutely unsupported under current law in Georgia. 

Drivers Waving Riders Through.

This is an ongoing challenge. Many times, particularly on high bike traffic routes, drivers will wave cyclists through an intersection as a courtesy. Sadly, this instance is still subject to a failure to stop citation, so it must be approached with caution.