Cyclist & Driver Coexistence: Tips for a Safe Summer on the Roads

By Greg Kohn
Partner

As summer unfolds, the number of cyclists sharing the road with vehicles increases significantly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that from 2010 to 2021, bicyclist fatalities ranged from 623 to 966. Because of this, an increased awareness for both cyclists and drivers is needed to ensure safety. Our New Jersey personal injury attorneys discuss the importance of understanding and adhering to road safety rules to help prevent accidents and ensure coexistence between cyclists and drivers this summer.

Understanding the Rights and Responsibilities

Both cyclists and drivers have rights and responsibilities on the road. Drivers must recognize that cyclists are legally entitled to share the road and should be treated with the same respect as any other vehicle. Cyclists, too, should be aware of what is required of them while on the route with vehicles. Other than following traffic laws, Jersey Drives recommends cyclists should:

  • Use hand signals to indicate direction
  • Use front and rear lights when riding at night
  • Wear a helmet, which is required for those under 17

In recognizing these mutual responsibilities, cyclists and drivers are taking the first step in creating safer roads for everyone.

Laws Regulating Cyclists and Drivers

Title 39 of the New Jersey Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulation provides requirements for cycling in the state. Some of the regulations covered by the cycling laws include being safely equipped when riding at night, having a bell or other audible devices, having a good braking system, and knowing the N.J. Stat. § 39:4-36 Stop & Stay Stopped Law.  

On March 1, 2022, New Jersey implemented the New Jersey’s Safe Passing Law. With this in effect, drivers must use “due caution” when encountering vulnerable people on the road. Some aspects of this law are as follows: 

  • Drivers must move over an available lane while following all current no-passing and no-speeding laws
  • If driving on a single-lane road, drivers must provide a distance of at least 4 feet to safely pass a vulnerable road user
  • If 4 feet is not possible, the driver must slow to 25 mph and be prepared to stop until it is safe to pass. 

A violation of this law will result in a $100 fine, and if bodily injury is involved, a $500 fine and 2 motor vehicle points. 

Tips for Drivers: Ensuring Cyclist Safety

Drivers are largely tasked with protecting cyclists from accidents. By following these simple habits, drivers can ensure that cyclists are kept safe:

  • Always check for cyclists before opening your vehicle door
  • When making turns, be on the lookout for cyclists who may be approaching from behind or riding alongside you
  • Use your mirrors and check your blindspots regularly
  • Exercise patience by giving cyclists time to safely go through intersections

Putting these habits into practice will prevent collisions and promote respect and caution on busy roads. 

Tips for Cyclists: Staying Visible and Vigilant

Cyclists must take proper precautions to ensure visibility and safety when sharing the road. Some tips to do so are:

  • Wear bright or reflective clothing, and also equipping bikes with lights and reflectors
  • Ride defensively and assume that the driver might not see you
  • Always ensure that your bike is in good condition and wear a helmet
  • Plan your route and stick to roads with better lighting and less traffic whenever possible

Overall, staying alert will greatly improve your chances of keeping safe on the road. 

Take Action: Support for Road Safety

Both drivers and cyclists can coexist peacefully on the roads, but only through mutual respect and understanding. Even though both parties exercise these tips, accidents can still happen. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident involving a cyclist, it is important to seek professional legal assistance. Our experienced attorneys understand the complexities of road safety laws and can help you navigate the legal process. Contact us today.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.