Pointers for cycling responsibly in Tennessee



With warmer springtime weather comes the desire to head outside and enjoy the lovely blooming of nature during a refreshing bike ride. Such activities can open the door to unique dangers and injuries.

How can cyclists stay safe, and what recourse does a person have after injury in a bicycle accident?

What requirements exist for bicyclists in Tennessee?

Bicyclists are responsible for operating their vehicles safely and legally, just like motor vehicle operators. For example, a cyclist must have at least one hand on the handlebars while riding.

Riders should communicate turns and braking with hand signals and obey traffic signs and signals while traveling in the same direction as traffic on the right-hand side of the road. Cyclists should also have appropriate lighting or reflectors.

Who has liability for a bicycle accident?

Negligence determines liability in any road accident in Tennessee. As a comparative negligence state, a court assigns each vehicle operator a percentage of liability. A party who is 50% or more at fault cannot recover damages after a crash.

An insurance company may award an injured bicyclist compensation for property damage and medical treatment but does not cover time lost from work, ongoing medical treatment resulting from an accident or long-term care. An injured person must file a personal injury lawsuit to compensate for such costs.

A local government agency or municipality may hold responsibility for an accident if a local road or path is in negligent disrepair. Alternatively, the bicycle manufacturer can be liable if a defective part caused an incident or failed during a crash.

With more cyclists taking to the road in the warmer part of the year, it pays to understand one’s rights and responsibilities as a bicyclist so everyone can share the road safely.