Rules of road apply on Tweetsie Trail
Published 11:26 am Saturday, July 4, 2015
Many people have taken a ride on the Tweetsie Trail since its opening last year. However some of them may not realize there are state laws regarding riding a bicycle on the trail.
In Tennessee, bicycle riders must follow the same traffic laws as vehicles, not only when they are riding on the road but also while riding on a designated “public bicycle path,” which includes the Tweetsie Trail.
As the Tweetsie Trail winds 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.
Recently, the Elizabethton Star has received calls from local motorists who complained that bicyclists are not heeding the traffic laws, particularly the stop signs at intersections of the Trail and roads.
The Star contacted the Elizabethton Police Department to see if complaints had been filed with officers regarding bicyclists running the stop signs.
“We’ve not received any complaints of that,” EPD Chief Greg Workman said.
As part of the department’s patrol division, police officers on bicycles patrol the Tweetsie Trail within the Elizabethton City limits, Workman said, adding officers are out on the trail every week watching for safety issues.
“If they were to see anything like that they would enforce the law,” Workman said of his officers and potential bicycle violations.
In Tennessee, a bicycle has the same legal status of a vehicle and bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists and are subject to the same fines, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
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.
State law also mandates additional safety provisions for children on bicycles.
The Tennessee Child Bicycle Safety Act of 1993 requires all bicycle operators under the age of 16 to wear a bicycle helmet when riding on any highway, street, sidewalk or public bicycle path. 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 while it is attached to a vehicle.