Bicycles are not just for childhood recreation—they are a form of exercise and even a commuter vehicle for fit and environmentally friendly riders. In Tennessee, bicycles are legally classified as road vehicles, and that status allows riders the same rights and protections as drivers of passenger cars. However, just like driving, bike riding must be done according to state laws—and failure to follow safe riding laws can increase your accident risk and affect your recovery in a bicycle crash case.
Tennessee Laws All Bicyclists Have to Follow
Tennessee classifies a bicycle as any human-powered pedal vehicle with two tandem wheels that is designed to carry one or more people. Some pedal vehicles may be legally considered bicycles if they have more than two wheels, but only if they are used for transport on highways, streets, or other public rights-of-way.
Tennessee traffic laws require all bicycle operators to:
- Ride with the flow of traffic. Bikers are required to ride on the right-hand side of the road in the same direction as traffic. Bikers are required to follow the same laws as cars when riding in traffic, obeying all traffic signs and signals.
- Use lights and signals. Bikers must use hand signals to communicate their intentions and are required to equip their bicycles with a front-mounted white light and a red rear reflector or lamp that are both visible from at least 500 feet away.
- Adhere to child safety laws. While riders over age 16 may choose to ride without a helmet, all bicycle riders under the age of 16 are required to wear a bicycle helmet on all rides. In addition, any child passengers (those under 40 pounds or shorter than 40 inches) must be in a bicycle trailer or restrained in a child safety seat attached to the frame.
- Ride as the bicycle designer intended. Riders on a bicycle should be seated on or astride the bicycle’s attached seat and carry no more passengers than the number for which the bicycle is equipped. Violation of these laws may be charged as a Class C misdemeanor.
- Never cling on to vehicles. Riders on bicycles, roller skates, sleds, or other rolling devices are forbidden from grabbing or holding onto motorized vehicles in motion at any time. Violators of this regulation may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
- Keep at least one hand on the handlebars. Bicycles are often used as delivery vehicles for newspapers, food orders, and other small items. However, it is a Class C misdemeanor to carry any package, bundle, or article that prevents the bike rider from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.
- Equip their bicycles with regulation brakes. All riders have a duty to equip their bicycles with one or two brakes that enable the bicycle to stop within twenty five feet from a speed of ten miles per hour on a dry, level surface.
- Stop at intersections with vehicle detection devices. Many traffic control signals use vehicle detection devices to keep traffic flowing smoothly. However, smaller vehicles such as bicycles may not be detected by these devices, rendering the traffic lights inoperative when only the biker is present in the lane. At these inoperative signals, riders are required to come to a complete stop at the intersection and only proceed after ensuring that the direction of travel is clear.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, it may take months or years for you to fully recover from your injuries, all while you are unable to earn a living. You should not have to suffer due to someone else’s negligence. Our attorneys can listen to your story and explain to you how much your claim may be worth. Contact GriffithLaw today for a free evaluation of your case, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.