Tennessee Bicycle Laws

Police Chief

Eve M. Thomas
(865) 215-7000

800 Howard Baker Jr. Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37915

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via Email
Minimum 3 in TennesseeIn Tennessee, a bicycle has the legal status of a vehicle. 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.

Tennessee traffic laws require bicyclists 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 five hundred feet (500') to the rear
• Obey the TN Child Bicycle Safety Act by having all bicycle operators under 16 years of age wear a bicycle helmet on any highway, street, or sidewalk and;
• Seat and secure all child passengers under 40 pounds or 40 inches in a child restraining seat or a bicycle trailer per the TN Child Bicycle Safety Act

Here are some excerpts on bicycle laws in the state of Tennessee:

TCA 55-8-172 - Traffic Laws Apply to Persons Riding Bicycles – Penalty
Every person riding a bicycle or electric bicycle, as defined in Section 2 of § 55-8-301, upon a roadway is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter and chapter 10, parts 1-5 of this title, except as to those provisions of this chapter and chapter 10, parts 1-5 of this title that by their nature can have no application.
TCA 55-8-175 - Riding on Roadways and Bike Paths – Penalty
(2) The operator of a motor vehicle, when overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, shall leave a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet (3') and shall maintain the clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.
(d) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

The City of Knoxville has a similar ordinance (Sec. 17-446), which is enforced by the Knoxville Police Department.

View detailed list of rules:

Click here to view a PDF of all bicycle laws for the City of Knoxville and State of Tennessee.

Click here to view a detailed listing of State of Tennessee Bicycle Laws.