On August 5, 2021 Governor Murphy signed into law Senate Bill #2208 which provides for, among other things, that an operator of a motor vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall comply with the requirements for passing and overtaking a motor vehicle such that when the motorist passes the bicycle it must be at a safe distance and does not interfere with the safe operation of the bicycle. The motorist must take into consideration the size and speed of the motor vehicle and bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility and the surface and width of the highway.
The bill also provides that the operator of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway at a distance of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator.
If the operator of the motor vehicle cannot comply with these provisions due to traffic or roadway conditions, then the driver shall slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent and may pass the bicycle only when passing would not endanger the safety of the operator of the bicycle. If a person violates these provisions the fine is $100.00 but if a collision occurs between the motor cycle and the bicycle causing bodily injury to the operator of the bicycle then the operator of the motor vehicle if found to be in violation of the section and shall be subject to a fine of $400.00.
Unfortunately, since more individuals are biking on roads and highways, there has been an exponential increase in accidents with automobiles, motor cycles, buses and other forms of transportation resulting in serious injuries and even fatalities to cyclists. This law at least is a step in the right direction with respect to the degree of circumspection which motorists should pay to cyclists. Being an avid cyclist, I have witnessed too often serious injuries caused both by inattentive bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers.
Likewise, it is important to remember that bicyclists are required to follow bicycle safety laws which includes a requirement under N.J.S.A. 39:4-10.1 that all people under the age of 17 wear helmets when riding a bike.
Cycling without mirrors, front and rear lights glazing and bright, reflective clothing exposes a cyclist to unwarranted dangers of the roadway.
It is advisable to wear clothes that are visible to motorists while on a bike, bright colors during the day, reflectors and lights at night are imperative. It is important that cyclists follow the rules of the road, that they proceed in the same direction as traffic and that they observe all traffic control devices including but not limited to stop signs. It is important also that a cyclist become predictable to the operator of the motor vehicle. As such, a cyclist should endeavor to ride in a straight line as close to the shoulder of the road or highway s/he is on. Cyclists should be completely aware of their surroundings, be extremely conscious of the road conditions and warn other cyclists of hazards that may be on the road.
Cyclists should bike in a fashion which anticipates dangerous situations occasioned by interacting with any motor vehicle. NHTSA has provided an excellent resource with videos indicating the hazards which cyclists should attempt to avoid and/or anticipate when on a road where motor vehicles are present. An excellent resource is:
To recap, for almost thirty years I have been representing individuals who have been injured in bicycle, motorcycle and automobile accidents as well as injuries in the work place and premises liability. It is imperative that an individual who is injured communicate with an experienced trial lawyer so that the proper medical care is obtained and representation regarding one’s injuries is addressed in the proper forum.
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