Passing laws: New Jersey requires that in the event a motor vehicle passes a bicycle it shall leave a safe distance.
Helmet law: New Jersey requires the operator or passenger of a bicycle under the age of 17 years old to wear a helmet. The failure to wear a helmet shall not constitute contributory or comparative negligence and shall have no bearing in the event there is any pending lawsuit in connection with riding the bicycle.
Laws to Protect the Bicyclist: There are certain laws entitled “vulnerable user laws.” These laws, in essence, require the vehicle least at risk to yield to the vehicle most at risk. For example, a motor vehicle would have to yield to a bicycle and a bicycle would have to yield to a pedestrian. New Jersey does not have any specific vulnerable laws.
Distracted Driving Laws: As almost every bicyclist knows, distracted driving creates one of the most dangerous risks to a bicycle on a public road way. Every state has varying laws to attempt to reduce the amount of distracted driving that exists. Nonetheless, it still presents a serious problem.
In New Jersey there have been laws passed to attempt to reduce distracted driving by punishing violators. Here is a summary of the present laws. There will be links at the end of this article to the specific laws in full detail.
- It shall be unlawful for an operator of a motor vehicle to use a wireless communications device unless it is being used in a hands free mode;
- A person, regardless of age, may not use a wireless phone at any time while operating a motor vehicle on a roadway in a school speed zone, or in a roadway work zone;
- An operator of public transit vehicle shall never operate said vehicle while using his/her cell phone or wireless communication device; and
- A school bus driver may never operate a school bus while using his/her cell phone or wireless communication device.
Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Generally speaking, New Jersey law requires bicyclists to be as close to the right hand edge of the road as possible. However there are some important exceptions that I will outline below:
- When passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
- When preparing to take a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway; or
- When reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions such as riding in a lane that is too narrow;
- When travelling same speed of traffic; and
- Shall never ride more than two abreast.
Sidewalk Riding: There is no law that either prohibits nor authorizes bicycles to be on sidewalks. Vehicles and horses are not allowed on sidewalks. However, in New Jersey bicycles are not defined as vehicles. New Jersey does not require that bicyclists use any lane or path other than a normal vehicular traffic lane.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: Obviously, it is never a good idea to drive any vehicle under the influence of alcohol Though, In New Jersey, bicycles are not defined as motor vehicles. New Jersey’s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to motor vehicles and therefore does not directly apply to bicyclists.
Stop Sign Laws: In New Jersey bicycles have to follow the same rules as motor vehicles regarding the requirement to come to a complete stop when directed to stop by traffic control devices and New Jersey does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Important Resources and Links