It’s the law: Bicycles must stop at street intersections

Published 7:10 am Friday, October 3, 2014

With the opening of the Tweetsie Trail, bicyclists can be seen on most days enjoying a ride through town.
However, many bicycle riders may not realize they must follow the same traffic laws as vehicles.
“In Tennessee, a bicycle has the same legal status of a vehicle,” says a TDOT information release regarding bicycle laws in the state. “This means that bicyclists have full rights and responsibilities on the roadway and are subject to the regulations governing the operation of a motor vehicle.”
According to TDOT, this means bicycles must obey the same traffic laws which govern vehicles or they can be subject to the same fines a motorist would face for a traffic violation.
Under state law, bicyclists are required to:
• Ride on the right-hand side of the road with the same direction as traffic
• Obey all traffic signs and signals
• Use hand signals to communicate intended movements
• Equip their bicycles with a front white light visible from 500 feet and either a red reflector or a lamp emitting a red light which shall be visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the rear.
According to TDOT, the traffic rules also apply to bicycles traveling on a “public bicycle path.”
As the Tweetsie Trail travels through Elizabethton it crosses several streets. There are signs on the roadways to mark the trail crossings — and also stop signs on the trail to remind bicyclists to stop before crossing the street.
State law also mandates additional safety provisions for children on bicycles.
According to the information release from TDOT, the Tennessee Child Bicycle Safety Act of 1993 requires that all bicycle operators under the age of 16 must wear a bicycle helmet when riding on any highway, street or sidewalk. The Act also requires child passengers under 40 pounds in weight or under 40 inches in height to be seated and secured in a child restraining seat or a bicycle trailer.
State law also prohibits bicycle riders from clinging to a vehicle or riding a bicycle that is attached to a vehicle at the time.

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