Over the past few years, private researchers and government agencies disclosed some disturbing news about cyclists. People who rode bicycles continued to see high rates of injuries and fatalities. If you ride your bike on a regular basis, you have probably been a victim of this as well. Even worse, accidents and fatalities seemed almost always to trend upwards. This is especially true in warmer states, such as Tennessee. 

Drivers often claim they do not see cyclists. Cyclists say drivers are busy on their phones, which is often true. This can lead to heated arguments between the two groups, especially when an accident occurs. Still, cyclists do have rights and responsibilities on the road. 

According to the Tennessee Department of Transportation, bicycles share the same legal status as motor vehicles. This means that generally speaking, cyclists share in all the rights and responsibilities of drivers on the road. See below for some of the key points when it comes to rights and responsibilities: 

  • Riders must secure minors in a child restraining seat if they weigh less than 40 pounds or are shorter than 40 inches. 
  • Cyclists under 16 years old must wear a helmet on sidewalks, streets and highways. 
  • Bicycles should have reflectors and lights to improve visibility. 
  • Cyclists must ride in the same direction as regular traffic. 
  • Riders should obey all vehicle traffic signals and road signs, including red lights and stop signs. 
  • Cyclists should use hand signals to indicate intended movements and turns. 

When cyclists are minors, parents may also become responsible for their actions. Parents may become accountable if they allow minors to operate bicycles without following the rules and regulations. One example of this is when parents allow a minor under the age of 16 years old to ride a bike without a helmet. 

It is important for drivers to understand the rights and responsibilities of cyclists. This helps to reduce instances of failing to yield. Driving and riding without distractions also help to keep roadways safe.