Share the Road

In March of this year Bicycling magazine ranked America’s top 21 cities for cycling. Our fair city tied with Cambridge, MA for honorable mention (cities with population 75,000 to 200,000), trailing Boulder, CO, Eugene, OR, and Ann Arbor, MI. This wasn’t Chattanooga’s first bike related award; in 2004 the League of American Bicyclist granted Chattanooga a Bicycle Friendly Community bronze-level award. The League’s Executive Director said “Chattanooga and our other Bicycle Friendly Communities display uncommon political commitment, technical expertise, and community involvement to become better places to bicycle. The rewards for residents are huge: reduced traffic, better air quality, increased travel choices, and greater opportunities to lead more active lifestyles.” Here is a picture of our “new” mayor, Ron Littlefield, “riding” his bike to receive the award….this looks natural, right?

I lived in Atlanta for a while and commuted to work once on my bike, which is all it took to convince me that it was not safe (I believe Bicycling magazine ranked Atlanta worst city to bike in). So, I do appreciate being able to ride the 6 miles to work without too much hassle. I am not saying that commuting in Chattanooga is always pleasant, I was honked at and yelled at just a few weeks ago, but it is important to know the rules and to be comfortable on your bike.

Recently some friends and I had a discussion about bike safety in our car-obsessed society. The conversation started because of a fatal accident that involved a bicyclist and a car. One of the points made: I’m suggesting that we as a society did something wrong when we decided (and are still deciding, since about 1945) to start building roads exclusively for fast-moving cars...A road in which cars are comfortable driving at 50 mph is by my inclination NOT exactly a good place for a bicycle - and that’s the problem. It’s a dangerous place - a place where people get killed. Why should I as a cyclist or pedestrian be trapped to only certain roads? If I want to go to the Save-A-Lot or the Kwiky Mart, I either have to own a car or risk my life.”

States' spending of Federal Funds, National Average:
Highways & Bridges = $72 per person
Pedestrian Projects = $0.55 per person

While one might argue that if a cyclist wants to ride on a road where the speed limit is 50mph then that cyclist should know the “rules of the road,” but shouldn’t drivers know how to “share the road?” Below are excerpts from TN Code and Drivers Manual:


[Acts 1955, ch. 329, § 71; T.C.A., § 59-872; Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 113.]

55-8-172. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles - Penalty.
Statute text
Every person riding a bicycle 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 special regulations in
§§ 55-8-171 - 55-8-177, and except as to those provisions of
this chapter and chapter 10, parts 1-5 of this title which
by their nature can have no application....

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