Rules of the Road Apply to Bicyclists Too

A Belle Mead bicyclist was injured recently after hitting the front end of an SUV while making a left-hand turn on a township road. The woman’s injuries were not life-threatening but, to add insult to those injuries, she was issued a summons for failure to keep right and causing the accident. (1)

Not all bicyclists involved in roadway accidents are that lucky however. Last month, an unidentified man lost control of his bike and flipped over the handlebars while riding on a Teaneck road. He suffered serious head injuries in the accident. Following the incident police began an investigation to determine whether or not the accident was the result of the man being struck by a motor vehicle. (2)

Earlier this spring, a popular North Plainfield teacher died as a result of his biking accident. He suffered fatal injuries after losing control of his bicycle and crashing into a guardrail. (3)

Statistics show that most bicycle deaths occur in accidents between a bicycle and a motor vehicle and most of these crashes happen by driveways and at intersections. Moreover, statistics point to the cyclists as being at fault in about three-quarters of these accidents. (4)

In New Jersey, bicycles are regulated under the laws of the Motor Vehicle and Traffic Regulation. As such, bicyclists have the same rights and are subject to the same responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles. New Jersey bicyclists are required to abide by the same State and local driving laws that automobile drivers are subject to. Parents can be held liable if their children violate any of these laws. (5)

There is at least one group of bicycle enthusiasts who are working for the passage of a safe passing/vulnerable user law in the state. In the meantime, there are things you can do to ensure your safety while enjoying your bike ride. Before taking to the roads on your bicycle, review the regulations and safety tips provided by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (see links 4 and 5 below).

(1) http://www.nj.com/news/local/index.ssf/2010/08/bicyclist_ticketed_for_riding.html

(2) http://www.northjersey.com/news/transportation/incidents/071210_Man_seriously_hurt_in_Teaneck_bicycle_accident.html

(3) http://www.nj.com/news/local/index.ssf/2010/05/north_plainfield_mourns_teache.html

(4) http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/bike/pdf/BIKEBASI.PDF

(5) http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/bike/regulations.shtm