Here is an email that I received a while back from Kelley Segars, our excellent transportation planner at the Knoxville Regional TPO on sharing the road with cars and trucks. The email is reproduced with permission, and what she spells out should be applicable throughout the state.
I recently got an email from a concerned motorist who appreciates bicyclists' right to be on the road. However, she has experienced some issues in Blount County with cyclists who continue to ride two abreast even with cars behind them, and who motion to her to pass them even where there is a double yellow line and poor sight distance. I'd like to remind everyone of these laws and courtesy tips:
1. Two abreast is only legal when you are not impeding traffic. If a car comes up behind you, you need to get into single file. (And remember it's not legal at all within the National Park, including Foothills Parkway.)
2. Leave a gap. When riding up hills or on narrow roads where you are impeding faster traffic, leave a gap for cars between every three or four bicycles. This way motorist can take advantage of shorter passing intervals and eventually move piecemeal around the entire group.
3. Please don't wave motorists on. It is their responsibility to decide if it's safe to pass you, not yours. You don't know how long it's going to take them to pass you. It may be clear right now, but what if it
takes the driver 5 seconds or more to decide to trust you and then to accelerate and pass? How are you going to feel when there is a head on collision? And it's illegal to pass where there is a double yellow line. Most people are still going to pass you despite this, but you shouldn't be encouraging people to do something illegal.
4. The slow moving vehicle law does apply to bicyclists. If you are going 10 mph less than the speed lmit and there are 5 or more vehicles behind you, you should pull over when it's safe and let them pass. You may wish to do this even if there are fewer than 5 cars, esp if it's an area with a lot of blind curves and hills (although I know that's exactly where it would be hard to find a safe spot to pull over!)
5. Move Off the Road When You Stop - Whether you are stopping because of mechanical problems or to regroup with your companions, move well off the road so you don't interfere with traffic.
Yes, we have a right to be on the road, but we need to follow the laws if we expect to be treated with respect (or if we want to have a leg to stand on when we ask for respect). And courtesy is a two-way street!
Kelley Segars, Principal Transportation Planner - Knoxville Regional TPO
400 Main St, Suite 403, Knoxville, TN 37902
PH 865/215-3815, FX 865/215-2068