New Atlanta bike lane law approved; drivers face $100 tickets

Credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Serna

Credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Serna

Drivers who park, stop or drive in a bike lane will now be slapped with a $100 fine.

Atlanta City Council unanimously approved the new law at Monday afternoon’s meeting. Those driving tractor-trailers will get a $1,000 fine for violating bike lane laws.

Drivers who park in bike lanes were previously fined $25 under the “improper use of lane” law.

Part of the new law would include a ticket diversion program through the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and city solicitor’s office.

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The one-time, annual program would educate drivers on existing bicycle safety and traffic laws. Once violators complete the program, their ticket would be waived.

Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd voted in favor of the ordinance despite her previous concerns the proposed law posed an issue for residents who only have street parking in their neighborhoods such as those living on Dill Avenue in southwest Atlanta.

At Monday’s council meeting, Sheperd said she spoke with residents and was able to rectify issues they had concerning the law, but did not say how they were resolved.

“We have to educate our residents on this whole bike issue,” Sheperd said. “There are a lot of communities that are not advocates of bike lanes ... especially now that we’re going to be giving out tickets.”

In 2016, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition launched a crowd-sourcing campaign to track the number of vehicles blocking bike lanes. Through the campaign, people uploaded photos to a map, which showed the date, time and location of offenders.

Users reported 692 such incidents between May 11, 2016, to June 21, 2017. Eighty-two percent of the reports were from streets in downtown Atlanta, including Edgewood Avenue, which had 87 reports. Fifth Street had the most bike lane offenses of any street, with 212 violations captured in photos.

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