Caution! A New Law In NJ Gives Pedestrians And Cyclists More Power
Let me just preface this article by saying…as a motorist, a cyclist, and at one time a moped owner, I understand the rationale of being courteous to others on the road and trying and practice a high level of etiquette.
Unfortunately, I think it is safe to say everyone has experienced a time when someone who shares the road by other means of transportation, has not extended the same amount of courtesy.
Have you noticed there are more and more “bike lanes” showing up on county and township roads in New Jersey? Maybe it’s just me but the notion of riding my bike on a busy road away from traffic scares the daylights out of me.
If anything, I would rather ride into the oncoming traffic so that I can see what potential danger may be coming my way. Short of having a side mirror on my bike, not knowing what or how many vehicles are coming up behind me is a bit frightening.
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As a driver, I always attempt to slow down, move over, and even stop when I approach a situation where another person creates my actions to provide a safe passage. I’ve witnessed the opposite reaction from my fellow drivers. To which I am dismayed?
Equally disturbing, are the instances where cyclists participating in a group ride, hang together side by side on the shoulder of a small county road and without any self-discipline, cross the threshold and penetrate past the solid white line the divides the road and the shoulder.
Depending on the situation of oncoming traffic, you as the driver are dangerously forced to navigate in a way you should not have to if the cyclist extended the same etiquette while riding their bike on a road; built for motorists.
The same head-scratching moments come when you see a motorcyclist decide to weave and dodge in-between cars, trucks, and busses because they are impatient to wait in the same traffic jam in which we are all stuck. How is that not a dangerous situation?
As of August 5, 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law mandating motorists in the Garden State must slow down or move over as they approach and pass non-motorists on the roadways. The new bipartisan supported law, entitled "New Jersey Safe Passing Bill" extends to cyclists and any type of pedestrians like walkers and joggers. It also includes contractors and public utility workers.
There is a hefty penalty if you fail to do so. If you are caught violating this new law, you will be hit with a $500 fine. Plus two points will be added to your New Jersey driving record.
New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition's Jim Hunt says…
"Spurred by the pandemic, we have seen an increase in people walking, biking, and rolling to get to work, to school, or to parks or take their health and fitness routines literally on the road. At the same time, we are faced with the surge of car and truck traffic on our roads. This has resulted tragically in an increase in serious injuries and deaths in the state."
Don’t get me wrong. I am not against this new law or the safety it is designed to create. Any bicycle riding fatality is too many. It's sad to read the statistics of pedestrian fatalities are on a 60% rise.
And just last week, a bicyclist was hit by a car after failing to stop at a stop sign while riding in the street.
My point is that there are two sides to this argument. Where I hope, the laws on the books to give motorists their rights on the highway are equally enforced.
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