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Acting Natchez Trace Parkway Chief of Police clarifies rules of road for bicycles, cars

Video of a bicyclist being hit on the Natchez Trace Parkway Saturday has prompted a flurry of response regarding the crash. PHOTO: Greg Goodman submitted via video

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Video of a bicyclist being hit on the Natchez Trace Parkway Saturday has prompted a flurry of response regarding the crash.

Marshall Neely was arrested and charged with striking Tyler Noe as Noe and his friend, Greg Goodman, were riding. Neely was charged with reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, leaving the scene of an accident with injury, failure to report, and leaving the scene without rendering aid.

The video has been viewed on FOX 17 Nashville's Facebook page over 700,000 times alone and sparked hundreds of comments when it comes to beliefs over right-of-way.

According to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) which dictates the laws enforced on the Natchez Trace Parkway, riding abreast (side-by-side) is prohibited.

Title 36, Chapter 4.3, section (h)(4) under prohibited acts states "Operating a bicycle abreast of another bicycle except where authorized by the superintendent."

However, FOX 17 spoke with acting Chief Calvin Farmer, who clarified it's not so cut and dried. While the CFR does say riding abreast is prohibited, if no traffic law exists on the Trace -which spans three states- the law could be ultimately be defined on that state's law by assimilation.

Given the crash took place in Tennessee, Chief Farmer says state law specifies if a bicyclist is riding on substandard lanes, they can use the full lane if necessary. A substandard lane is a lane less than 12 feet wide. Chief Farmer says lanes on the trace are just 11 feet wide.

On top of that, the Natchez Trace Parkway also has signs posted which state bicyclists may use the full lane. Chief Farmer says there is no starting and stopping point based on where the signs are posted. "Think of them as you would speed limit signs," Farmer says.

The signs are reminders bicyclists can take up the full lane throughout the Trace in Tennessee, not just those designated areas.

To summarize things, while the CFR makes a general statement on rules of the road, they can be superseded by parts of state law and signage posted by the park superintendent where applicable.

While Neely was being held at the Williamson County Jail, it was the National Park Service Police which made the arrest, are conducting the investigation, and filed the report.

The Williamson County Sheriff's Office is assisting in the investigation.

Neely, a former University School of Nashville dean of students has also been placed on administrative leave from his current part-time job until the investigation is complete.


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