New Jersey Bicycle Laws
It is important to think about the “rules of the road” when it comes to biking. Many people just hop on their bikes and go. Yet New Jersey does have a fairly comprehensive set of laws regarding bicycling in our state — and each of these rules is designed to keep us safe.
While biking is a favorite pastime for many residents of the Garden State (and tourists who flock to the shore each summer), it can be dangerous. Each year, collisions between motor vehicles and bikes lead to serious injuries and at times, fatalities. That is why it is vital for all of us to learn the rules when it comes to biking in New Jersey.
Why Following Bicycle Laws Is So Important
Although New Jersey has strict laws governing biking — both for cyclists and drivers — the rate of fatal bike crashes continues to rise. This is a significant concern, particularly for all who enjoy partaking in this activity throughout our beautiful state, as a sport, for leisure, or even as a way to commute.
According to the New Jersey State Police, in 2017 alone, there were 16 deadly crashes involving bicyclists. 17 people died in those accidents. The majority (8) of those killed were between the ages of 41 and 60.
In 5 out of the 16 cases, the accident happened because the driver failed to yield right of way. Other accidents occurred due to failure to obey traffic control or to keep right. Of 13 bicyclists tested after these accidents, 7 tested positive for alcohol and/or drugs.
Given the potential for serious or even fatal injuries when bikes collide with vehicles, it is all the more important for bicyclists and drivers alike to understand the law when it comes to biking in New Jersey. Obeying these rules can help to keep us all safe on our roads and highways.
What Bicyclists Need to Know
In New Jersey, a bike is defined as any two-wheeled vehicle with a rear-drive that is solely human-powered, with a seat height of 25 inches or greater. Bikes must meet certain safety standards, such as having brakes, lights visible at up to 500 feet for use at nighttime, reflectors, and an audible signal that can be heard at least 100 feet away, such as a bell or a horn (but not a siren or whistle!).
When biking in New Jersey, bicyclists are granted all of the rights and subject to all of the duties of motor vehicle drivers. Under the New Jersey Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulation Laws, bicyclists:
- Must ride as near to the right roadside as practicable, and exercise due care when passing a standing vehicle or one moving in the same direction;
- May move to the left (1) to make a left turn from a left-turn lane; (2) to avoid a hazardous condition on the right side; (3) to pass a slower moving vehicle; (4) to occupy any available lane when traveling at the same speed as other traffic; or (5) to travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded, but otherwise must ride in a single file.
- Must ride in the same direction as vehicular traffic.
- Must obey all state and local automobile driving laws, including those related to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Parents may be held liable for a child’s violation of any New Jersey traffic law. In addition, bicyclists are prohibited from driving with hands or feet removed from the handlebars or pedals, or to practice any trick driving in the streets. Passengers are limited to the number of seats on a bike, and cyclists are barred from hitching rides on vehicles.
Anyone under the age of 17 years who rides a bicycle or is a passenger in New Jersey is required to wear a helmet. This includes anyone who is towed as a passenger by a bicycle.
Under this law, helmets must be properly fastened and fitted, and must meet the standards of either the meet the federal standards developed by the American National Standards Institute or the Snell Memorial Foundation’s 1990 Standard for Protection Headgear.
Municipalities can exempt individuals from helmet use through ordinance when a bicycle is operated (1) on a road or highway closed to motor vehicle traffic or (2) exclusively on a trail, route, course, boardwalk, path or other area set aside for the use of bicycles and/or pedestrians. If a bicyclist is operating a bike pursuant to such an ordinance, they must dismount from their bike and walk whenever necessary to cross a road or highway.
A violation of New Jersey’s helmet law will result in a warning. For minors, the parent or legal guardian may be fined a maximum of $25 for a first offense, and up to $100 for subsequent offense(s), if a lack of parental supervision contributed to the offense.
Beyond the potential for a warning and/or a fine, wearing a helmet is vital to reduce the risk of a head injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), head injury is the leading cause of death and serious disability in bicycle crashes. Wearing a helmet can reduce that risk by up to 80%.
How a New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
There are few things more frightening than being struck by a car when you’re on a bike ride. The likelihood of being suffering a significant injury is incredibly high given the lack of protection that an average bicycle provides. Wearing a helmet and other safety gear can help — but it may not protect you from all harm.
Mattiacci Law has a track record of success. With nearly 20 years of experience, we are dedicated to getting results for our clients. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a New Jersey personal injury lawyer, contact us today at 856-219-2481 or email us anytime.