Change to TN eBike Laws – Jan 2017

I must not have been paying attention, because a whole slue of new laws concerning eBikes became effective in Tennessee on January 1, 2017. I’ll post a link to them below, but the short summary is:

Any eBike made after January 1, 2017 must be tagged with one three classes. Each class has different rules concerning helmets and where they can operate. These sanction eBike manufactures and merchants, but also the riders. It gets complicated for people with older eBikes that are not tagged.

Given the outcry of the public AGAINST bicycles on the roadway during the tragic aftermath of the hit-and-run of a rider on the Natchez Trace, I think it is important to communicate ALL the laws protecting cyclists and giving them the legal right to be on the road (two-by-two and often taking up the whole lane). I feel it is also important to say:  Roads are for people. Cars destroy roads, so they are taxed. People in cars don’t have more rights than other people using roads. 

Official Bike Laws are posted here:

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Electric Bicycles

TCA 55-8-301: Part definitions.

As used in this part:
(1) “Class 1 electric bicycle” means an electric bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of twenty miles per hour (20 mph);

(2) “Class 2 electric bicycle” means an electric bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of twenty miles per hour (20 mph);

(3) “Class 3 electric bicycle” means an electric bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of twenty-eight miles per hour (28 mph); and

(4) “Electric bicycle” means a device upon which any person may ride that is equipped with two (2) or three (3) wheels, any of which is twenty inches (20″) or more in diameter, fully operable pedals for human propulsion, and an electric motor of less than seven hundred fifty (750) watts, and meets the requirements of one (1) of the three (3) classes of electric bicycles defined in subdivision (1), (2), or (3).

TCA 55-8-302: Requirements and laws applicable to electric bicycles.

An electric bicycle and any person operating an electric bicycle is not subject to any requirements or laws applicable to motor vehicles, including the Tennessee Financial Responsibility Law of 1977, compiled in chapter 12, part 1 of this title; the Uniform Classified and Commercial Driver License Act of 1988, compiled in chapter 50 of this title; and chapters 3 and 4 of this title, relating to titling and registration. Except as otherwise specified by this part, the requirements and laws applicable to bicycles in this title shall apply to electric bicycles.

TCA 55-8-303: Label.

(a) On or after January 1, 2017, every manufacturer or distributor of new electric bicycles intended for sale or distribution in this state shall permanently affix, in a prominent location, to the electric bicycle a label that contains the classification number, top assisted speed, and motor wattage of the electric bicycle, and is printed in Arial font in at least nine-point type.

(b) On or after January 1, 2017, no new electric bicycle shall be sold to the general public in this state unless a label is affixed to the electric bicycle pursuant to subsection (a).

TCA 55-8-304: Unlawful modification of electric bicycle.

It is an offense for a person to knowingly modify an electric bicycle so as to change the speed capability of the electric bicycle and not appropriately replace, or cause to be replaced, the label indicating the classification required in § 55-8-303. A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

TCA 55-8-305: Equipment requirements.

(a) No electric bicycle shall be operated upon any street or highway unless the electric bicycle:

(1) Complies with applicable equipment and manufacturing requirements for electric bicycles established by state and federal law, including federal standards adopted by the United States consumer product safety commission and compiled in 16 CFR Part 1512; and

(2) Is equipped in such a manner that the electric motor is disengaged or ceases to function when the brakes are applied, or that the electric motor is engaged through a switch or mechanism that, when released or activated, will cause the electric motor to disengage or cease to function.

(b) No class 3 electric bicycle shall be operated upon any street or highway unless it is equipped with a speedometer that displays the speed the electric bicycle is traveling in miles per hour.

TCA 55-8-306: Operation of electric bicycle on street or highway or path or trail.

(a)(1) A class 1 electric bicycle or a class 2 electric bicycle may be operated on any part of a street or highway where bicycles are authorized to travel, including a bicycle lane or other portion of a roadway designated for exclusive use by bicyclists, the shoulder or berm, and any path or trail intended for use by bicyclists.

(2) A local government or state agency having jurisdiction over any part of any path or trail where bicycles are authorized to travel may regulate or prohibit, by resolution or ordinance if a local government or by rule or policy if a state agency, the operation of a class 1 electric bicycle or class 2 electric bicycle on that path or trail, if the local government or state agency determines that the regulation or prohibition is necessary, in the interest of public safety.

(3) No class 3 electric bicycle shall be operated on any part of a path or trail where bicycles are authorized to travel, unless the path or trail is within or adjacent to the street or highway, or the local governing body or state agency having jurisdiction over the path or trail permits, by resolution or ordinance if a local government or by rule or policy if a state agency, the operation of a class 3 electric bicycle on that path or trail.

(4) No electric bicycle shall be operated on any sidewalk unless the use of bicycles on sidewalks is authorized by resolution or ordinance if a local government or by rule or policy if a state agency, of the local government or state agency having jurisdiction over that sidewalk, and the electric motor is disabled.

(5) Any local resolution or ordinance or state agency rule or policy adopted in accordance with this subsection (a) shall use the definitions in this part for electric bicycle, class 1 electric bicycle, class 2 electric bicycle, or class 3 electric bicycle. References to motor vehicles in any local resolution or ordinance shall not be applicable to an electric bicycle.

(6) A person who knowingly operates an electric bicycle in violation of subdivision (a)(3) or (a)(4) commits a Class C misdemeanor.

(b) On any roadway, highway, or street, electric bicycles shall be restricted, limited, or excluded by local resolutions and ordinances to the same extent as bicycles are restricted, limited, or excluded.

TCA 55-8-307: Prohibited operation of class 3 electric bicycle by person under 14 years of age — Helmet requirements.

(a) It is a delinquent act for a person under fourteen (14) years of age to operate a class 3 electric bicycle upon any street or highway; provided, that the person may ride as a passenger on a class 3 electric bicycle that is designed to accommodate passengers.

(b) The operator and all passengers of a class 3 electric bicycle, regardless of age, shall wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet meeting federal standards established by the United States consumer product safety commission or the American Society for Testing and Materials. A label on the helmet shall be affixed signifying the helmet complies with this subsection (b).

The Path: It’s All Good!

The path that connects my sleeply Mayberry suburb to the two-horse town I live near is almost complete! So almost, in fact, that I took my first trip to town on it this morning! I had some errands to run in town and wasn’t driving. It is definitely going to work well for me. In fact, it already does! There are a few things I would caution though: it is not shady, there are a few sharp turns to cross the tracks, the signs are not up to mark the many road crossings, and one section (about 50 feet) is not complete but it runs parallel to a quiet road. I saw 6 bicyclists and two 2-man construction crews while on the path today. I hope that in a couple of weeks it will be full of people!

Suggestions for the path, in case someone with influence happens to read this:

  1. bike racks at each entrance/park
  2. animal-proof trash cans at key road crossings (for easy collection by city)
  3. connect to a fenced “bark” park
  4. memorial/sponsored benches every half mile
  5. signs with distances (preferably with maps and road-crossing names)
  6. a few spots that are landscaped for views and photos (i.e. sponsored spots)

I am happy to report that I love my tiny community! I am a regular at a Mexican dive ran by a local family. I am addicted to their guacamole ranchera. In my effort to avoid Walmart and Lowes, I also frequent the Ace Hardware right now. I hope that is going to slow down soon though. Most of my immediate fixer-upper projects are complete. I can now live in the house while I design and plan for the kitchen and bath remodel.

**Chris swept by and took me camping this past weekend. Since I don’t sleep anyway, I am the perfect person to stay up all night with to watch the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. Clear skies and a special burst of activity made it a great show. Thanks, Chris! 

Trike In, Trash Out

The first week of the month is always a whirl wind. It seems like all of the organizations I belong to have their meetings in the first 10 days of every month. I also have some unique items on my social calendar. I can’t wait to share them with you.

Community Tai Chi at the Park: My doctors encourage me to meditate and find ways to exercise. Sometimes it takes all of my will to peel myself up to be outside for a few minutes. Sometimes wriggling into a sports bra uses up a day’s worth of energy. But, this morning I peeled myself off the bed (after a pretty miserable night and morning) and joined several people at a community park for Tai Chi. It was my first experience with this practice and I have to admit that I like it more than the yoga classes I have attended. It might be that the instructor (Ajan Nikki) is an awesome woman that I have a lot of respect for. Yeah, it might be that.

Trike In, Trash Out at Cummins Falls: A group of friends and I have been planning to go on a hike after (their) work. Sadly, most trails close around the time we could get to them. So, I’ve asked for special permission to use a trail after it closes with the promise to carry trash back out with us. This seems like a win all around. My friends and I are pretty big into the outdoors and serving our community. The trail we are cleaning is extremely popular, but with popularity comes trash, unfortunately. I used to always take a mesh bag and carry out a load of trash whenever I hiked (especially in caves). I’ve gotten out of the habit over the last couple of years, but there is no time like the present to start again. I honestly think people litter more in places where they already see trash. By cleaning things up a bit, hopefully we will deter further pollution. [I plan to add a brief update and post-clean-up photo here].

8K After Dark Race in the Park: “I used to run.” I tend to say that phrase a lot and have been saying it for almost a decade now. I ran in middle school. I ran in high school. I ran in college and my early 20’s. Since I stopped, I’ve tried to start several times. I’ve ran or participated in a smattering of community races–with friends or to support causes that I particularly care about. This weekend I am going to walk and jog in a community race. I’ll try my best. It will be humiliating. But that is okay… I want to shirt. I want to fully ingrain myself in this community and I am told this is the race that represents the running community best. If I’m going to run one, this is the one. Who knows, this  might just be the race that I use as a benchmark next year if I decide to run a bit and train up. [I planned to add a photo post-race, but I was not able to make it. I washed out and spent the evening and next day at home being boring.]

After the race I’ve been invited to cool off at a grown-up pool party. My ability to drop in there depends on how long it takes me to finish the race, but I am excited to meet a few new people there. [Although I appreciated the invitation and was very excited to meet new people, I also washed out of this event. Sometimes insomnia really sucks folks.]

Hair today, gone tomorrow: I cut my hair. It was beautiful and long, but I like to change things up. I lost about 8 inches. It is still longish, but not enough to be a defining feature. I already regret the cut: it took so long to grow out. Ugh. It is just hair. It will grow. It is definitely lighter and curlier now!


**I broke my first spoke. Cookeville Bicycle fixed me up with immediate service. They have heavy gauged spokes on order for me. They also added some protection to my front tire to help prevent future flats.**