8 Ways to Safely Share the Road With Cyclists in Tennessee

Drivers in Nashville and throughout Tennessee must be aware that bicyclists are allowed to share the roadway. It is crucial for drivers and cyclists to take the steps necessary to ensure roadway safety. Here, our Nashville personal injury attorneys discuss eight steps that Tennessee drivers can take to help ensure that they follow the law and properly share the road with bicyclists.


1. Make your turns carefully

Bicyclists typically ride on the right side of the road, so you need to be aware of this when making a turn, particularly a right turn. We encourage you to check your mirrors and blind spots before turning. When you are at a stop sign or a stoplight, make a complete stop so bikers can pass you, and make sure you check for unseen riders before turning.

2. Pass slowly and with caution

When you are approaching a bicyclist, please take time to slow down and pass the cyclist cautiously. The severity of bicycle accidents is directly related to how fast a vehicle is going when they strike them, so the slower you go around the bicyclist, the better.

3. Do not drive in bike lanes

If you are in an area where there are designated bicycle lanes for cyclists, this is not a lane for your vehicle. The only time you should enter a bicycle lane is if you have to turn across the lane to get into another lane, a parking lot, or a driveway, and you should only do so after yielding to bikes in the lane.

4. Give bicyclists space

Under Tennessee law, the operator of a motor vehicle must maintain a certain distance from bicycles when overtaking or passing the cyclist proceeding in the same direction. The law requires that the motorist stay at least three feet away from the cyclist and maintain this clearance until they safely overtake the bicycle. A violation of this law is considered a Class C misdemeanor offense.

5. Yield the right of way

Under Tennessee law, bicyclists are considered regular vehicles, which means that they must follow all traffic laws, and other motorists must treat them with the same respect as any other vehicle on the roadway. This includes yielding the right of way to the bicyclist in the same way that you would yield to other vehicles.

6. Do not assume

Drivers should never assume anything on the roadway, which is why we always preach about practicing defensive driving. Never assume that a bicyclist is going to stay in a straight path along the right side of the road, or even if a bicyclist is on a sidewalk. You truly never know what type of obstacle a bicyclist is going to run into, and they could veer into the path of a vehicle suddenly.

7. Be careful of children

If you approach a situation where there are children on bicycles, please take extra precautions. Children are smaller and harder to spot on the roadway, especially for those inside larger vehicles like SUVs or pickup trucks.

8. Be careful opening your door

When you have parked your car, particularly if you have parallel parked on the side of the roadway, we encourage you to check your mirrors and blind spots before you open your door. All too often, motorists open their doors right into the path of oncoming bicyclists, which can lead to significant injuries.