I live near a minor Tennessee town and frequently ride the few miles into town and back on state highways. Part of the route (the less busy part, ironically) has a dedicated bike lane, but it's filled with debris in many parts, so for about the last year, I've been riding about 6-12" left of the white line and moving over a few feet when a car is about to overtake me (except when there's not enough room, in which cases I've been simply holding position, which is arguably wrong). This has worked quite well and I've had very few close calls. In particular, visibility seems to be anecdotally better when riding at the edge of the lane instead of on the shoulder.
Recently, however, a patrolman seems to have gotten in the habit of stopping me every few weeks to tell me I should be riding on the shoulder… by which he apparently means as close to the very edge of the paved area as possible. But according to this Knoxville Regional Bicycle Program PDF, this Bike Law article, and even the official TN Driver's License Manual (p105, or p116 in the PDF), I
- don't have to use a dedicated bike lane,
- don't have to ride on the shoulder, and
- can occupy the entire rightmost (only) lane if I choose to, since it's of substandard width.
Assuming all this is correct, how should I handle this situation? I don't want to pick a fight with police, but neither do I want to pointlessly endanger myself following instructions that aren't legally required.