Bicycling is a great form of exercise, a fun way to get around town, and it is good for the environment. But each year, hundreds of bicyclists are killed and thousands more are injured in traffic accidents across the country. To keep yourself and your kids safe, make sure you check out these New Jersey bicycle laws before your next ride.
What bicycle laws do I need to know?
The State of New Jersey considers cyclists as motorists. This means that riders have most of the same rights and responsibilities as a motorist, with a few differences.
Riding on Streets
When you ride a bicycle on the road in New Jersey, you have all the same rights and expectations as the driver of a vehicle on the road. This means:
- You must come to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs.
- You must obey traffic signs.
- You must ride with the flow of traffic.
- You must ride on the right side of the street, never against traffic.
- You must pass slower moving vehicles by using the left lane.
Because you have the same rights as drivers, that means that you have right-of-way at four-way stops over vehicles that reach the intersection after you and right-of-way over cars entering the road.
Stay to the Right Side of the Lane
Although New Jersey law treats bicyclists largely the same as drivers, there is one huge difference between drivers and bikers on the road. Bikers must ride on the right side of the lane, near the shoulder rather than in the center of the lane like a car would.
However, there are several exceptions to this rule. As a bicyclist, you can ride closer to the center or left side of the lane when:
- There is no shoulder available
- You need to make a left turn from left lane
- There is debris on the right-hand side of the lane
- You need to pass a slower moving vehicle
- You want to occupy the left lane when traveling at same speed as other vehicles
Pay Attention to Parked Cars
Bicyclists should pay attention to parked cars while riding on the street. Parallel parked cars, in particular, are dangerous to bikers because the driver of the car could throw open his or her door in front of you and cause a serious crash, referred to as “dooring.”
Another way that parked cars pose a risk for collision is when a driver backs out of a parking spot without looking carefully. Stay aware of blind spots, for parked and traveling cars.
Finally, avoid the desire to weave in and out of parallel parked cars in the right lane.
Although a large area of parallel parking spaces could be empty and it feels safer to put space between you and the other cars on the road, you are actually making it more likely that one of these cars will collide with you. This is because when you come back into traffic to avoid a parked car, the cars driving on the road may not see you until the last second.
Riding on Sidewalks
Some cyclists feel safer avoiding the streets entirely and sticking to sidewalks. This is especially true for younger riders. However, be sure to check your local rules. Although the state of New Jersey does not ban riding on sidewalks, some cities have such bans.
If you are able to ride on sidewalks in your city, remember that you must always yield to pedestrians. No matter who gets to a crosswalk or footpath intersection first, let the pedestrian go first. If necessary, get off your bike and walk next to it through crowded areas.
If you plan to pass a pedestrian, you must alert him or her by honking or ringing your bike’s bell.
In the state of New Jersey, it is illegal for anyone under age of 17 to ride a bicycle without wearing a helmet. If caught riding without a helmet the rider or his or her parent will face a fine of:
- $25 fine for the first citation
- $100 fine for subsequent citations
There are a few exceptions to the helmet rule. The law does not require riders — regardless of age — to wear a helmet when they are riding on a road closed to vehicles, a trail, a boardwalk, or another area for bikes only.
The law does not require adults to wear a helmet, although choosing to wear one is a good idea, especially if you plan to travel at high speeds alongside vehicles.
Your Bike Must Have a Bell or Horn
New Jersey law requires that all bicycles have a bell or horn that can be heard from 100 feet away. Use these noise makers to alert pedestrians such as joggers and walkers that you are going to pass them. Never use a sirens or whistle, as state laws forbid them.
Your Bike Must Have Front and Rear Lights
In New Jersey, if you want to ride at night your bicycle must have a front white light headlight and a rear red lamp; both must be visible from 500 feet away. It is also a good idea to have several reflectors on your bike and to wear bright clothing if you plan to bike after dark.
Keep these rules and safety tips in mind when you and your family members decide to take your bicycles for a spin. And if you or a loved one is injured in a bicycle accident, please call Cordisco & Saile LLC to preserve your legal right to compensation: 215-642-2335.