New Jersey Bicycle Accident Laws
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At Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., our knowledgeable New Jersey bike crash attorneys are committed to providing our clients with the effective representation they need to obtain justice and rightful compensation from the at-fault parties.
Riding bicycles may be fun, economical, and eco-friendly, but a bike rider in New Jersey also has rights and responsibilities. To ride a bicycle on the state's roadways, bicyclists must follow the appropriate laws – and so must motorists. These laws govern both the bicycle itself as well as how it must be ridden. The regulations are in place for the safety of bicyclists; but even if bicyclists follow every law to the letter, they cannot prevent accidents caused by the negligence or recklessness of motor vehicle drivers. Regardless, here are the rules:
New Jersey Bicycle Laws: The Bike
Under Title 39 of New Jersey's Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulation laws, a bicycle is defined as a two-wheeled vehicle with a solely human-powered rear drive and a seat height of at least 25 inches in the lowest position. Additional laws that relate to the actual bicycle include the following:
- When used at night, the bicycle must be equipped with these lights:
- A white-light headlamp visible from at least 500 feet;
- A red-light rear lamp visible from at least 500 feet; and
- A red reflector mounted on the rear in addition to the rear red lamp.
- A bicycle must be equipped with an audible device, such as a bell, which can be heard from at least 100 feet away, but the device may not be a whistle or a siren.
- The bicycle must have a brake that can make the wheels/tires skid while stopping on clean, level, and dry roadway.
New Jersey Bicycle Laws: The Rider
New Jersey regulations also govern how a rider must operate a bicycle. Under Title 39, bicycle riders must comply with the following laws:
- Bicyclists may not drive a bicycle with both hands off of the handlebars or feet off of the pedals. Additionally, no tricks shall be attempted in the street.
- Bicyclists may only carry a passenger or passengers if the bike is designed to do so.
- No bicycle rider may hitch a ride/attach him/herself to any vehicle or streetcar.
- Bicyclists may ride side by side as long as it’s limited to two abreast and riders aren’t impeding the flow of traffic.
- Cycling on sidewalks is not prohibited by New Jersey law, but there are some municipalities that don’t allow bicycle traffic on specific sidewalks.
- Bicyclists are afforded the same rights and have the same responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers.
- Anyone riding a bicycle on the road must ride as close to the right side of the roadway as is safe, while being extra cautious when passing parked vehicles or ones traveling in the same direction.
- A bicyclist may move to the left:
- to make a left turn;
- to avoid dangerous conditions;
- to travel in an available lane at the same speed of other traffic;
- to pass a slower vehicle; and
- to travel two across, as long as this does not impede other traffic; otherwise, riders must travel single-file.
- Bicyclists must travel in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic.
- Bicyclists must obey all motor vehicle traffic laws.
- All bike riders under 17 years of age must wear a helmet.
New Jersey Bicycle Laws: The Motorist
Since bicyclists are given the same rights to the road as motorists, vehicle drivers are responsible for upholding these rights and driving with a duty of care that protects cycling traffic. This means adhering to the following laws and practices:
- Motorists should take extra precautions to look for bicyclists, particularly at intersections.
- Motorists must avoid getting too close to bikes, instead leaving plenty of space to allow for sudden movements.
- Motorists should yield to cyclists whenever changing lanes, making a turn, or pulling out of a driveway.
- Motorists should slow down to ensure there’s enough clearance before passing a bicycle.
- Motorists should keep from blocking or parking in designated bike lanes.
- Motorists should resist any activity that would cause distraction and take their focus off the road.
Holding Negligent Drivers Liable
Unfortunately, even bicyclists who follow all of the above laws are still at risk of falling victim to the inattention, distraction, or other negligent actions of motorists. Bicycle accidents are much more devastating to the bicyclist than the driver. Serious injuries can change a bike rider's entire way of life, if the injuries don't take that life away. Although an accident can never be undone, there are still steps that may be taken to ensure the protection of a bicyclist’s future.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle crash in New Jersey, the skilled lawyers at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. can help you obtain the financial compensation you need to overcome the challenges you face now and the financial, physical, and emotional challenges you may face in the future. To learn more about how an attorney can help, call us today for a free consultation at (609) 240-0040.
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