Laws for Cyclists and Pedestrians

Whether you're a pedestrian, a cyclist, or a motorist, you have responsibilities whenever you enter the public right of way. Learn the rules of the road and help keep the streets safer for all road users.

For Cyclists:


Tennessee Code Annotated


The Code of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee

For Pedestrians:


Tennessee Code Annotated


The Code of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee

For Cyclists

Tennessee Code Annotated:

Title 55 Motor and Other Vehicles
Chapter 8 Operation of Vehicles--Rules of the Road
Part 1 Operation of Vehicles -- Rules of the Road

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-110 (2012) - back to top

55-8-110. Traffic-control signals -- Inoperative signals with vehicle detection devices for motorcycles -- Right of way at signals inoperative due to mechanical failure or accident -- Inoperative signals with vehicle detection devices for bicycles.

  • (d) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the rider of a bicycle approaching an intersection that is controlled by a traffic-control signal utilizing a vehicle detection device that is inoperative due to the size of the bicycle shall come to a full and complete stop at the intersection and, after exercising due care as provided by law, may proceed with due caution when it is safe to do so. It is not a defense to a violation of 55-8-109 that the rider of a bicycle proceeded under the belief that a traffic-control signal utilized a vehicle detection device or was inoperative due to the size of the bicycle when the signal did not utilize a vehicle detection device or that the device was not in fact inoperative due to the size of the bicycle.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 9; 1973, ch. 28, 1; 1973, ch. 40, 1; 1974, ch. 489, 1; 1976, ch. 401, 1; T.C.A., 59-810; Acts 1982, ch. 684, 1; 1991, ch. 145, 1, 2; 2003, ch. 266, 1; 2004, ch. 442, 2; 2005, ch. 15, 1; 2007, ch. 447, 1; 2008, ch. 962, 2; 2008, ch. 964, 1; 2010, ch. 640, 1; 2011, ch. 425, 7, 8.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-171 (2011) - back to top

55-8-171. Operation of bicycles and play vehicles -- Penalty -- Effect of regulations.

  • (a) It is a Class C misdemeanor for any person to do any act forbidden or fail to perform any act required in this section and 55-8-172 -- 55-8-177.
  • (b) The parent of any child and the guardian of any ward shall not authorize or knowingly permit that child or ward to violate any of the provisions of this chapter and chapter 10, parts 1-5 of this title.
  • (c) The regulations applicable to bicycles shall apply whenever a bicycle is operated upon any highway or upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles subject to those exceptions stated herein.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 71; T.C.A., 59-872; Acts 1989, ch. 591, 113.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-172 (2011) - back to top

55-8-172. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles -- Penalty.

  • (a) 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 that by their nature can have no application.
  • (b) A violation of subsection (a) is a Class C misdemeanor.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 72; T.C.A., 59-873; Acts 1989, ch. 591, 113.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-173 (2011) - back to top

55-8-173. Riding on bicycles -- Playing and use of play vehicles -- Penalties.

  • (a) A person propelling a bicycle shall not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto, except for a certified police cyclist who is performing duties that require riding in a side dismounting position.
  • (b) No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one (1) time than the number for which it is designed or equipped.
  • (c) No person shall play on a highway other than upon the sidewalk thereof, within a city or town, or in any part of a highway outside the limits of a city or town, or use thereon roller skates, coasters or any similar vehicle or toy or article on wheels or a runner, except in those areas as may be specially designated for that purpose by local authorities.
  • (d) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 73; T.C.A., 59-874; Acts 1985, ch. 138, 3; 1989, ch. 591, 113; 1995, ch. 140, 4.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-174 (2011) - back to top

55-8-174. Clinging to vehicles -- Penalty.

  • (a) No person riding upon any bicycle, roller skates, sled or toy vehicle shall attach the bicycle, roller skates, sled or toy vehicle, or that person's own body, to any streetcar or vehicle upon a roadway.
  • (b) This section shall not be construed to prohibit the attachment of a bicycle trailer or bicycle semitrailer to a bicycle if the trailer or semitrailer is designed specifically for that purpose.
  • (c) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 74; T.C.A., 59-875; Acts 1985, ch. 138, 4; 1989, ch. 591, 113.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-175 (2011) - back to top

55-8-175. Riding on roadways and bicycle paths -- Penalty.

  • (a)
    • (1) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except under any of the following situations:
    • (A) When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
    • (B) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway; or
    • (C) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge. For purposes of this section, "substandard width lane" means a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
    • (2) This subsection
      • (a) does not apply to a certified police cyclist engaged in the lawful performance of duty relating to traffic control.
      • (b)
      • (1) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two (2) abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two (2) abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane.
      • (2) Subdivision (b)(1) does not apply to a certified police cyclist engaged in the lawful performance of duty relating to traffic control or in pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law.
      • (c)
      • (1) This subsection (c) shall be known and may be cited as the "Jeff Roth and Brian Brown Bicycle Protection Act of 2007."
      • (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.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 75; T.C.A., 59-876; Acts 1985, ch. 138, 5; 1989, ch. 591, 113; 1995, ch. 140, 5, 6; 2007, ch. 81, 1.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-176 (2011) - back to top

55-8-176. Carrying articles on bicycles -- Penalty.

  • (a) No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle or article that prevents the driver from keeping at least one (1) hand upon the handlebars.
  • (b) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 76; T.C.A., 59-877; Acts 1989, ch. 591, 113.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-177 (2011) - back to top

55-8-177. Bicycle lamps and brakes -- Penalties.

  • (a) Every bicycle, when in use at nighttime, shall be equipped with a lamp on the front, which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet (500') to the front, 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, when directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.
  • (b) Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake or brakes which will enable its driver to stop the bicycle within twenty-five feet (25') from a speed of ten miles per hour (10 mph) on dry, level, clean pavement.
  • (c) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 77; T.C.A., 59-878; Acts 1985, ch. 138, 6; 1989, ch. 591, 113; 2009, ch. 397, 1.

Title 55 Motor and Other Vehicles
Chapter 52 Safety of Children
Part 1 Child Bicycle Safety Act

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-52-101 (2011) - back to top

55-52-101. Short title.

This part shall be known and may be cited as the "Child Bicycle Safety Act."

HISTORY: Acts 1993, ch. 399, 2.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-52-102 (2011) - back to top

55-52-102. Legislative findings and declarations.

The general assembly hereby finds and declares that:

  • (1) Disability and death of children resulting from injuries sustained in bicycling accidents are a serious threat to the public health, welfare, and safety of the people of the state, and the prevention of such disability and death is the goal of the people;
  • (2) Head injuries are the leading cause of disability and death from bicycling accidents;
  • (3) The risk of head injury from bicycling accidents is significantly reduced for bicyclists who wear proper protective bicycle helmets; yet helmets are worn by fewer than five percent (5%) of child bicyclists nationwide; and
  • (4) The risk of head injury or of any other injury to a small child who is a passenger on a bicycle operated by another person would be significantly reduced if the child-passenger sat in a separate restraining seat.

HISTORY: Acts 1993, ch. 399, 3.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-52-103 (2011) - back to top

55-52-103. Part definitions.

As used in this part, unless the context otherwise requires:

  • (1) "Bicycle" means a human-powered vehicle with two (2) wheels in tandem designed to transport, by the action of pedaling, one (1) or more persons seated on one (1) or more saddle seats on its frame. "Bicycle" also includes a human-powered vehicle designed to transport by pedaling that has more than two (2) wheels where the vehicle is used on a public highway or street, public bicycle path or other public right-of-way, but does not include a tricycle;
  • (2) "Highway" or "street" means the entire width between boundary lines of every way publicly maintained, when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel;
  • (3) "Operator" means a person who travels on a bicycle seated on a saddle seat from which that person is intended to and can pedal the bicycle;
  • (4) "Other public right-of-way" means any right-of-way other than a public highway or street or public bicycle path that is under the jurisdiction and control of the state or a local political subdivision thereof and is designed for use and used by vehicular and/or pedestrian traffic;
  • (5) "Passenger" means any person who travels on a bicycle in any manner except as an operator;
  • (6) "Protective bicycle helmet" means a piece of headgear that meets or exceeds the impact standards for protective bicycle helmets set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Snell Memorial Foundation, or that is otherwise approved by the commissioner of safety;
  • (7) "Public bicycle path" means a right-of-way under the jurisdiction and control of the state or a local political subdivision thereof for use primarily by bicycles and pedestrians;
  • (8) "Restraining seat" means a seat separate from the saddle seat of the operator of the bicycle that is fastened securely to the frame of the bicycle and is adequately equipped to restrain the passenger in the seat and protect the passenger from the moving parts of the bicycle;
  • (9) "Sidewalk" means that portion of a street between the curb lines, or the lateral lines of a roadway, and the adjacent property lines, intended for use of pedestrians; and
  • (10) "Tricycle" means a three-wheeled human-powered vehicle.

HISTORY: Acts 1993, ch. 399, 4; 2000, ch. 916, 1-3.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-52-104 (2011) - back to top

55-52-104. Purpose.

The purpose of this part is to reduce the incidence of disability and death resulting from injuries incurred in bicycling accidents by requiring that, while riding on a bicycle on state highways, streets and sidewalks, all bicycle operators and passengers under sixteen (16) years of age wear approved protective bicycle helmets; that all bicycle passengers who weigh less than forty pounds (40 lbs.) or who are less than forty inches (40'') in height be seated in separate restraining seats; and that no person who is unable to maintain an erect, seated position shall be a passenger in a bicycle restraining seat.

HISTORY: Acts 1993, ch. 399, 5; 1998, ch. 684, 1; 2000, ch. 916, 4.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-52-105 (2011) - back to top

55-52-105. Child bicycle safety rules and regulations.

With regard to any bicycle operated over any highway, street or sidewalk, it is unlawful:

  • (1) For any person under sixteen (16) years of age to operate or be a passenger on a bicycle unless at all times when so engaged the person wears a protective bicycle helmet of good fit fastened securely upon the head with the straps of the helmet;
  • (2) For any person to be a passenger on a bicycle unless, with respect to any person who weighs less than forty pounds (40 lbs.), or is less than forty inches (40'') in height, the person can be and is properly seated in and adequately secured to a restraining seat;
  • (3) For any parent or legal guardian of a person under twelve (12) years of age to knowingly permit the person to operate or be a passenger on a bicycle in violation of subdivision (1) or (2); and
  • (4) To rent or lease any bicycle to or for the use of any person under sixteen (16) years of age unless:
    • (A) The person is in possession of a protective bicycle helmet of good fit at the time of the rental or lease; or
    • (B) The rental or lease includes a protective bicycle helmet of good fit, and the person intends to wear the helmet, as required by subdivision (1), at all times while operating or being a passenger on the bicycle.

HISTORY: Acts 1993, ch. 399, 6; 1998, ch. 684, 2; 2000, ch. 916, 5.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-52-106 (2011) - back to top

55-52-106. Penalty -- Defense -- Inadmissibility as evidence in civil action -- Issuance of warning and citation.

  • (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), any adult person violating any requirements set forth in 55-52-105, commits a violation and shall be assessed a civil penalty of two dollars ($2.00) and court costs.
  • (b) Upon commission of the first offense within a twelve-month period under 55-52-105(3), it shall be a defense that the accused has since the date of the violation purchased or provided a protective bicycle helmet or a restraining seat, and uses and intends to use or causes to be used or intends to cause to be used the same as the law requires.
  • (c) In no event shall failure to wear a protective bicycle helmet or to secure a passenger to a restraining seat be admissible as evidence in a trial of any civil action.
  • (d) A law enforcement officer observing any violation of this part shall issue a warning to the violator for the first offense and a citation to the violator for the second or subsequent offense, but shall not arrest or take into custody any person solely for a violation of this part.

HISTORY: Acts 1993, ch. 399, 7, 8; 2000, ch. 916, 6, 7.

The Code of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee
Chapter 12.60 - BICYCLES
12.60.010 - Compliance with Title 12 provisions. - back to top
It is unlawful for any person to do any act prohibited or fail to perform any act required by Title 12 of this code.
(Prior code 27-1-240)
12.60.020 - Application of Title 12 provisions. - back to top
The provisions of Title 12 shall apply whenever a bicycle is operated upon any street or highway or upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, subject to those exceptions stated herein.
(Prior code 27-1-242)
12.60.030 - Traffic laws applicable - Exceptions. - back to top
Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by the laws of this state declaring rules of the road applicable to vehicles, or by the traffic ordinances of the metropolitan government applicable to the driver of a vehicle, except as to special regulations in this title and except as to those provisions of law and ordinances which by their nature can have no application.
(Amdt. 1 with Ord. 99-1815 1, 1999; prior code 27-1-243)
12.60.040 - Obedience to traffic-control devices. - back to top

  • A. Any person operating a bicycle shall obey the instructions of official traffic signals, signs and other control devices applicable to vehicles, unless otherwise directed by a police officer, except that where a traffic signal is activated only by motor vehicles, a bicyclist who is faced with a red traffic signal may, after waiting a reasonable time to determine the signal will not change to green, proceed after yielding the right-of-way to all traffic lawfully proceeding through the intersection.
  • B. Whenever authorized signs are erected indicating that no right or left turn is permitted, no person operating a bicycle shall disobey the direction of any such sign, except where such person dismounts from the bicycle to make any such turn, in which event such person shall then obey the regulations applicable to pedestrians.

(Ord. 99-1815 2, 1999; prior code 27-1-244)
12.60.050 - Method of riding. - back to top
A person operating a bicycle shall not ride other than astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto.
(Ord. 99-1815 3, 1999; prior code 27-1-245)
12.60.060 - Riding on right side of roadway - Passing vehicles. - back to top
Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the same direction as other vehicular traffic as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

  • A. When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
  • B. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway;
  • C. When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including but not limited to fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard-width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge. For purposes of this section, a "substandard-width lane" means a lane too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely within the lane;
  • D. When riding on a shoulder if such operation does not violate any section of this title for passing or direction of travel;
  • E. When proceeding straight ahead on a multiple lane roadway with a "right turn only" lane; or
  • F. When riding within a bicycle lane.

(Ord. 99-1815 4, 1999; prior code 27-1-247)
12.60.070 - Operating more than two abreast. - back to top
Persons operating bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast. Persons operating two abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane.
(Ord. 99-1815 5, 1999; prior code 27-1-248)
12.60.080 - Number of persons on a bicycle. - back to top
No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.
(Prior code 27-1-246)
12.60.100 - Riding on sidewalks. - back to top

  • A. No person shall operate a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district.
  • B. Whenever any person is operating a bicycle upon a sidewalk, such person shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.
  • C. Persons operating bicycles across a roadway or driveway and along a crosswalk from a sidewalk or path have all the duties applicable to pedestrians under the same circumstances. Such persons similarly have the rights of pedestrians, but only if the bicyclist was entitled to use the sidewalk or path, and the approach and entry into the roadway or driveway are made at a speed no greater than an ordinary walk so that other drivers may anticipate the necessity to yield when required.

(Ord. 99-1815 7, 1999; prior code 27-1-255)
12.60.110 - Speed restrictions. - back to top
No person shall operate a bicycle at a speed greater than the posted speed limit or at a speed which is greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.
(Ord. 99-1815 8, 1999; prior code 27-1-250)
12.60.120 - Lamps and other required equipment. - back to top

  • A. Every bicycle, when in use at nighttime, shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front, and with a red reflector on the rear of a type which shall be visible from all distances from fifty feet to three hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from the distance of five hundred feet to the rear shall be used in addition to the red reflector.
  • B. Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake or brakes which will enable its driver to stop the bicycle within twenty-five feet from a speed of ten miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.

(Ord. 99-1815 9, 1999; prior code 27-1-256)
12.60.130 - Yield right-of-way required when. - back to top
The operator of a bicycle emerging from an alley, driveway or building shall, upon approaching a sidewalk or the sidewalk area extending across any alleyway, yield the right-of-way to all pedestrians approaching on such sidewalk or sidewalk area, and upon entering the roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on such roadway.
(Prior code 27-1-252)
12.60.135 - Bicycle lanes. - back to top

  • A. Every person operating a motor vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a person operating a bicycle within a bicycle lane. A person operating a motor vehicle may cross a bicycle lane when making a turn or when entering or leaving the roadway, but a bicycle lane shall not be used as turning lane or passing lane.
  • B. Motor vehicles should not be parked, stopped or left standing in bicycle lanes unless the metropolitan traffic and parking commission has determined that parking within the bicycle lane in specific locations is appropriate during certain hours and signs have been erected in the designated area(s) to that effect.
  • C. A person operating a bicycle within a bicycle lane shall give an audible signal when passing another person operating a bicycle proceeding in the same direction and shall further pass on the left.
  • D. A person operating a bicycle entering a bicycle lane shall yield the right of way to all bicycles in the bicycle lane. A person operating a bicycle leaving a bicycle lane shall yield the right of way to all vehicles and pedestrians. No person operating a bicycle lane shall leave it until the movement can be made with reasonable safety and, if any vehicle would be affected by the movement, by giving an appropriate signal before the movement is made.
  • E. A person operating a bicycle within a bicycle lane shall travel in the same direction as motor vehicles traveling in the adjacent traffic lane.

(Ord. BL2008-307 2, 2008; Ord. 99-1815 10, 1999)
12.60.140 - Parking of bicycles. - back to top

  • A. A person may park a bicycle on a sidewalk unless prohibited or restricted by an official traffic control device.
  • B. A bicycle parked on a sidewalk shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of pedestrian or other traffic.
  • C. A bicycle may be parked on a roadway at any angle to the curb or edge of the roadway at any location where parking is allowed.
  • D. A bicycle may be parked on a roadway abreast another bicycle near the side of the roadway at any location where parking is allowed.
  • E. A person shall not park a bicycle on a roadway in such a manner as to obstruct the movement of a legally parked motor vehicle.
  • F. Any person may park near and secure a bicycle to any publicly owned pole or post if no bicycle rack is available, for a period of not more than twelve hours, unless an official control device or any applicable law or ordinance prohibits the parking or securing of bicycles at that location.

(Ord. 99-1815 11, 1999)
12.60.150 - Carrying articles. - back to top
No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle or article which prevents the rider from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.
(Prior code 27-1-254)
12.60.160 - Clinging to vehicles. - back to top

  • A. A person riding upon any bicycle shall not attach the same or himself to any moving vehicle upon a roadway.
  • B. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to prohibit the attachment of a bicycle trailer or bicycle semitrailer to a bicycle, if such trailer or semitrailer is designed specifically for such purpose.

(Prior code 27-1-251)
12.60.165 - Youth helmets. - back to top
No person who is under sixteen years of age shall operate a bicycle, or ride as a passenger on a bicycle or a bicycle trailer, on a public roadway, bikeway, sidewalk or bike path unless wearing a protective helmet designed for public safety which meets or exceeds the standards set by the American Standards Institute (ANSI), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the Snell Foundation. While not mandatory, bicycle operators who are sixteen years of age or older are encouraged to wear helmets.
(Ord. 99-1815 12, 1999)
12.60.170 - Parent and guardian responsibility concerning violations. - back to top
The parent of any child and the guardian of any ward shall not authorize or knowingly permit any such child or ward to violate any of the provisions of this chapter.
(Prior code 27-1-241)
Chapter 12.16 - RULES OF THE ROAD
12.16.020 - Overtaking a vehicle on the left. - back to top

  • A. The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions and special rules hereinafter stated:
    • 1. The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle;
    • 2. Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal, and shall not increase the speed of his vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.
  • B. Section 12.84.020 sets out the penalty for violation of this section.
  • C. The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance, but not less than three feet clearance, and shall maintain clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.

(Ord. 99-1815 14, 1999; 1 (part) of Amdt. 2 to Ord. 90-1255, 7/17/90; Ord. 90-1255 1 (33), 1990; prior code 27-1-98)
12.16.110 - Turning movements and required turning signals. - back to top

  • A. No person shall turn a vehicle at an intersection unless the vehicle is in proper position upon the roadway as required by Section 12.16.140, or turn a vehicle to enter a private road or driveway, or otherwise turn a vehicle from a direct course, or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety. No person shall so turn any vehicle without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided. When turning a vehicle at an intersection or to enter a private road or driveway, a person shall yield the right-of-way to bicycles traveling lawfully within a bicycle lane, shoulder, sidewalk or on the roadway.
  • B. A signal of intention to turn right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last fifty feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.
  • C. No person shall stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided herein to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear when there is opportunity to give such signal.
  • D. The signals provided for in subsection B of Section 12.16.120 shall be used to indicate an intention to turn, change lanes or start from a parked position, and shall not be flashed on one side only on a parked or disabled vehicle, or flashed as a courtesy or "do pass" signal to operators of other vehicles approaching from the rear.
  • E. Section 12.84.020 sets out the penalty for violation of subsections A through D of this section.

(Ord. 99-1815 15, 1999; Ord. 90-1339 1 (27-5), (27-6), 1990; 1 (part) of Amdt. 2 to Ord. 90-1255, 7/17/90; Ord. 90-1255 1 (41), 1990; prior code 27-1-106)

For Pedestrians

Tennessee Code Annotated:

Title 55 Motor and Other Vehicles

Chapter 8 Operation of Vehicles--Rules of the Road
Part 1 Operation of Vehicles -- Rules of the Road

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-111 (2011) - back to top

55-8-111. Pedestrian-control signals.

Whenever special pedestrian-control signals exhibiting the words "Walk" or "Wait" or "Don't Walk" are in place, these signals shall indicate as follows:

  • (1) Walk. Pedestrians facing the signals may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right-of-way by the drivers of all vehicles; and
  • (2) Wait or Don't Walk. No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal, but any pedestrian who has partially completed crossing on the walk signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while the wait signal is showing.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 10; T.C.A., 59-811.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-133 (2011) - back to top

55-8-133. Pedestrians subject to traffic regulations.

  • (a) Pedestrians shall be subject to traffic-control signals at intersections as provided in 55-8-110, and at all other places, pedestrians shall be accorded the privileges and shall be subject to the restrictions stated in this chapter and chapter 10, parts 1-5 of this title.
  • (b) Local authorities are empowered to require by ordinances that pedestrians strictly comply with the directions of any official traffic-control signal and may by ordinance prohibit pedestrians from crossing any roadway in a business district or any designated highways except in a crosswalk.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 32; T.C.A., 59-833.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-134 (2011) - back to top

55-8-134. Pedestrians' right-of-way in crosswalks.

  • (a)
    • (1) Unless in a marked school zone when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation, when traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.
    • (2) When in a marked school zone when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk. The driver shall remain stopped until the pedestrian has crossed the roadway on which the vehicle is stopped.
  • (b) No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.
  • (c) Subsection (a) does not apply under the conditions stated in 55-8-135(b).
  • (d) Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 33; T.C.A., 59-834; Acts 2008, ch. 776, 1.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-135 (2011) - back to top

55-8-135. Crossing at other than crosswalks.

  • (a) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
  • (b) Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
  • (c) Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 34; T.C.A., 59-835.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-136 (2011) - back to top

55-8-136. Drivers to exercise due care.

  • (a) Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this chapter, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary, and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.
  • (b) Notwithstanding any speed limit or zone in effect at the time, or right-of-way rules that may be applicable, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care by operating the vehicle at a safe speed, by maintaining a safe lookout, by keeping the vehicle under proper control and by devoting full time and attention to operating the vehicle, under the existing circumstances as necessary in order to be able to see and to avoid endangering life, limb or property and to see and avoid colliding with any other vehicle or person, or any road sign, guard rail or any fixed object either legally using or legally parked or legally placed, upon any roadway, within or beside the roadway right-of-way including, but not limited to, any adjacent sidewalk, bicycle lane, shoulder or berm.
  • (c) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 35; T.C.A., 59-836; Acts 2005, ch. 198, 1; 2011, ch. 192, 1.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-137 (2011) - back to top

55-8-137. Pedestrians to use right half of crosswalks.

Pedestrians shall move, whenever practicable, upon the right half of crosswalks.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 36; T.C.A., 59-837.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-138 (2011) - back to top

55-8-138. Pedestrians on roadways.

  • (a) Except as provided in this section, where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk or use a wheelchair along and upon an adjacent roadway.
  • (b) Where sidewalks are not provided or are obstructed, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic that may approach from the opposite direction.
  • (c) Where sidewalks are not provided, are obstructed or are not wheelchair accessible, any person using a wheelchair along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, use the wheelchair on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic that may approach from the opposite direction; provided, that a person using a wheelchair along and upon a highway may use the wheelchair on the right side of the roadway or its shoulder if it is convenient or reasonably necessary for travel by the person.
  • (d) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 37; T.C.A., 59-838; Acts 1989, ch. 591, 113; 2008, ch. 1144, 3.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-139 (2011) - back to top

55-8-139. Pedestrians soliciting rides or business.

  • (a) No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride or employment from the occupant of any vehicle.
  • (b) No person shall stand on or in proximity to a street or highway for the purpose of soliciting the watching or guarding of any vehicle while parked or about to be parked on a street or highway.
  • (c) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

HISTORY: Acts 1955, ch. 329, 38; T.C.A., 59-839; Acts 1989, ch. 591, 113.

Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-180 (2011) - back to top

55-8-180. Pedestrians led by guide dog or carrying identifying cane given right of way -- Penalty.

  • (a) Whenever any pedestrian guided by a guide dog or dog on a blaze orange leash, or carrying in any raised or extended position a cane or similar stick white in color or white tipped with red, shall undertake to cross any public street or thoroughfare in this state, the driver of each and every vehicle approaching that pedestrian carrying the cane or stick or conducted by such dog shall bring such vehicle to a complete stop and before proceeding shall take all precautions necessary to avoid injuring the pedestrian; provided, that nothing in this section shall be construed as making any person totally or partially blind or otherwise incapacitated guilty of contributory negligence in undertaking to cross any street or thoroughfare without being guided by a trained dog or carrying a cane or stick of the type specified in subsection (a).
  • (b) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

HISTORY: Acts 1951, ch. 72, 2 (Williams, 2670.11, 2670.12); T.C.A. (orig. ed.), 59-881; Acts 1980, ch. 488, 2; 1989, ch. 591, 113.

The Code of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee

Chapter 12.52 - PEDESTRIANS

12.52.010 - Pedestrians to obey traffic regulations and traffic-control devices. - back to top

  • A. A pedestrian shall obey the instructions of any official traffic-control device specifically applicable to him, unless otherwise directed by a police officer.
  • B. Pedestrians shall be subject to traffic and pedestrian control signals as provided in Section 12.12.090
  • C. At all other places, pedestrians shall be accorded the privileges and shall be subject to the restrictions stated in this title.

(Prior code 27-1-120)

12.52.020 - Pedestrian right-of-way in crosswalks - Driver responsibilities. - back to top

  • A. When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian crossing is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.
  • B. No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.
  • C. Subsection A of this section shall not apply under the conditions stated in subsection B of Section 12.12.090
  • D. Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.

(Prior code 27-1-121)

12.52.030 - Use of right half of crosswalk. - back to top

Pedestrians shall move, whenever practicable, upon the right half of crosswalks.

(Prior code 27-1-124)

12.52.040 - Crossing where crosswalks not marked. - back to top

  • A. Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
  • B. Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
  • C. Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.
  • D. No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic-control devices and, when authorized to cross diagonally, pedestrians shall cross only in accordance with the official traffic-control devices pertaining to such crossing movements.

(Prior code 27-1-122)

12.52.050 - Right-of-way on sidewalks. - back to top

  • A. The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian on a sidewalk.
  • B. Section 12.84.020 sets out the penalty for violation of this section.

( 1 (part) of Amdt. 2 to Ord. 90-1255, 7/17/90; Ord. 90-1255 1 (56), 1990; prior code 27-1-129)

12.52.060 - Pedestrians using white canes or sticks. - back to top

  • A. It is unlawful for any person except persons wholly or partially blind to carry or use on the public streets of the metropolitan government any canes or walking sticks which are white in color with a red end.
  • B. It is the duty of all drivers of motor vehicles, when approaching a person carrying a cane or walking stick white in color with a red end, to immediately come to a full stop and yield the right-of-way to said person.
  • C. Section 12.84.020 sets out the penalty for violation of subsection B of this section.

( 1 (part) of Amdt. 2 to Ord. 90-1255, 7/17/90; Ord. 90-1255 1 (58), 1990; prior code 27-1-131.1)

12.52.070 - Blind pedestrians. - back to top

  • A. The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to any blind pedestrian carrying a clearly visible white cane or accompanied by a guide dog.
  • B. Section 12.84.020 sets out the penalty for violation of this section.

( 1 (part) of Amdt. 2 to Ord. 90-1255, 7/17/90; Ord. 90-1255 1 (57), 1990; prior code 27-1-131)

12.52.080 - Pedestrians on highways. - back to top

  • A. Where a sidewalk is provided and its use is practicable, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway.
  • B. Where a sidewalk is not available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk only on a shoulder, as far as practicable from the edge of the roadway.
  • C. Where neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway and, if on a two-way roadway, shall walk only on the left side of the roadway.
  • D. Except as otherwise provided in this title, any pedestrian upon a roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

(Prior code 27-1-125)

12.52.090 - Pedestrians to yield to authorized emergency vehicles. - back to top

  • A. Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of an audible signal and/or visual signals or of a police vehicle properly and lawfully making use of an audible signal only, every pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to the authorized emergency vehicle.
  • B. This section shall not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway, nor from the duty to exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian.

(Prior code 27-1-130)

12.52.100 - Obedience to railroad signals. - back to top

No pedestrian shall pass through, around, over or under any crossing gate or barrier at a railroad crossing while such gate or barrier is closed or is being opened or closed.

(Prior code 27-1-128)

12.52.110 - Crossing in front of vehicles stopped to discharge passengers. - back to top

No person shall cross any street within ten feet of the front of any vehicle which has stopped momentarily to load or discharge passengers, except in compliance with the direction of a police officer or a traffic signal.

(Prior code 27-1-127)

12.52.120 - Driver responsibilities. - back to top

  • A. Notwithstanding other provisions of this title, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.
  • B. Section 12.84.020 sets out the penalty for violation of this section.

( 1 (part) of Amdt. 2 to Ord. 90-1255, 7/17/90; Ord. 90-1255 1 (55), 1990; prior code 27-1-123)

12.52.130 - Soliciting rides or business prohibited. - back to top

  • A. No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride.
  • B. No person shall stand on a highway, roadway, or public street or alley for the purpose of soliciting employment, business or contributions from the occupant of any vehicle.
  • C. No person shall stand on or in proximity to a street or highway for the purpose of soliciting the watching or guarding of any vehicle while parked or about to be parked on a street or highway.

(Prior code 27-1-126)

12.52.140 - Pedestrians under the influence of alcohol or drugs. - back to top

It is unlawful for a pedestrian who is under the influence of alcohol or any drug to a degree which renders himself a hazard to walk or be upon a highway except on a sidewalk.

(Prior code 27-1-132)

12.52.150 - Use of motorized wheelchairs. - back to top

Persons with a mobility impairment operating a motorized wheelchair or similar vehicle not exceeding one thousand pounds gross weight are subject to all regulations, and privileges, provided by this chapter to any other pedestrian.

(Ord. BL2007-1308 1, 2007)

Notice: Walk/Bike Nashville makes no claim of offering legal advice or counsel. Users of http://www.walkbikenashville.org/ are advised to confirm the information listed above with the appropriate authority.