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Rules of road sometimes require flexibility for biking safety

All roads are not created equal. Non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians are not allowed on freeways in Georgia or any other state. On most roads, bicycle riders are expected to stick to the side of the road.

There can be exceptions. Some communities make room for cyclists - setting aside marked space for convenience and safety. In special parkway areas, such as some operated by the National Park Service, special accommodations are made to encourage road sharing by vehicles and cyclists. If a user neglects to follow the rules of the road, the result can be serious injury or even death.

Holding the negligent accountable

A case out of a nearby state is what brings this post to the fore. News reports cite the National Park Service as saying that a 58-year-old driver hit a man bicycling along the Natchez Trace Parkway in Tennessee recently. Not only did the collision leave the biker seriously injured, but the driver of the car is alleged to have left the scene. Fortunately, another male cyclist caught the encounter on his helmet-mounted video camera.

What the video appears to show is that the two men were riding nearly side by side along the two-lane parkway road. The lanes are divided by a double yellow line.

Normal rules and etiquette might suggest that the cyclists should have moved into single-file formation for vehicles trying to pass, but the NPS says the particular stretch of road in question is a designated bike route. It's OK for cyclists to use the road's full lane when necessary. At the same time, federal rules also call for riders to move to the right for passing vehicles.

Because of the video, authorities managed to track down the driver of the vehicle and make an arrest. He's now facing a range of criminal charges including leaving the scene, failing to render aid, failing to report the accident and a felony charge of reckless endangerment. The arrest affidavit says the driver told officers that a man and woman on the side of the road threw a bike at his car.

Criminal charges could deliver a measure of justice in this case, whether there might be a personal injury claim to make is something to be assessed by a skilled attorney. 

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