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Rules of the Road for Bicyclists

by | Aug 29, 2016 | Uncategorized


In New Jersey, bicycling is regulated under the Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulation laws. A “bicycle” means any two wheeled vehicle having a rear drive which is solely human powered and having a minimum seat height of 25 inches.

Unlike the X Games or other trick shows, bike riders in New Jersey are required by law not to drive with feet removed from the pedals, or with both hands removed from the handlebars, or practice any trick or fancy driving in a street. It’s also illegal for a “passenger” to ride on the “pegs” of a bicycle. Passengers are limited to the amount of seats the bicycle is equipped for.

Other safety requirements include: 1) brakes that can make wheels skid while stopping on dry, level, and clean pavement; 2) a bell or other audible device that can be heard at least 100 feet away; and 3) a front headlamp emitting a white light, a rear lamp emitting a red light, and an noncompulsory rear red reflector, when a bike is in use at nighttime. Finally, in New Jersey, anyone under 17 that rides a bicycle, is a passenger on a bicycle, or is towed as a passenger by a bicycle, must wear a safety helmet.

This law now includes roller and inline skates, as well as skateboards. Bicycle helmets must meet the federal standards developed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Initial violators of the helmet law will get warnings. For minors, the parent or legal guardian may be fined a maximum of $25 for the 1st offense and a maximum of $100 for subsequent offense(s), if lack of parental supervision contributed to the offense. So, it’s on parents to make sure their children wear a helmet.

In operating a bike, every person riding one on a roadway must ride as near to the right roadside as practicable and must exercise due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction. But, there are conditions when a rider may move left, which include: 1) to make a left turn from a left turn lane or pocket; 2) to avoid debris, drains, or other hazardous conditions on the right; 3) to pass a slower moving vehicle; 4) to occupy any available lane when traveling at the same speed as other traffic; and 5) to travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded, but otherwise ride in single file. Every bike rider must ride in the same direction as vehicular traffic. Similar to the laws regarding helmets, a parent may be held responsible for a child’s violation of any traffic law. Omar Bareentto is a 2016 Rutgers School of Law graduate and a former contributor to the Rutgers Business Law Review. He collaborated with me on this blog.

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