Many of us put away our bikes when we were old enough to drive a car. Cars meant freedom. The freedom to choose our destination. However, bike riding allows us to enjoy the journey while being outdoors free from distraction.
Recently, bicycling has enjoyed an upswing in popularity. According to the U.S. Census, the number of Americans who bike to work has increased by 60% since 2000. Many communities are encouraging biking by building more sidewalks, bike trails and bike-share programs.
While this healthy alternative to cars enjoys resurgence, one must be aware of the associated risks of bicycling. Before your next bike ride, here are some important rules to remember.
Bicycle Helmet Law
Every year, individuals are killed or seriously injured while riding their bicycles. Many of these bicycle accidents involve motor vehicles. According to the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, head injury is the most serious injury and the most common cause of death among bicyclists.
In New Jersey, anyone under the age of 17 is required to wear an approved helmet when cycling, roller-skating, in-line skating or skateboarding. The law presumes anyone under the age of 17 does not have the requisite wisdom or maturity to know the importance of wearing a helmet.
Regrettably, there are far too many people 17 or older without wisdom or maturity that choose not to wear a helmet and risk death or traumatic brain injury. Injuries can happen anywhere, including parks, bike paths and driveways so anyone and everyone riding a bicycle should wear a helmet.
Bicycle Safety Laws
Under New Jersey law, every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway has all the rights and duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle. This means that a bicyclist must use turn signals, ride only on the right side of the road and obey all traffic signals and signs.
Bicyclists are permitted to travel two abreast when traffic is not impeded. However, when riding slower than the flow of traffic, bicyclists should stay to the right and ride single file.
Every bicycle used at nighttime must be equipped with a lamp on the front that emits a white light and with a lamp on the rear that emits a red light. Further, every bike should have a red reflector mounted on the rear visible from a distance of up to 500 feet. Such lights and reflectors are inexpensive and can be found at most local department stores.
There is some debate as to whether bicycles are permitted on sidewalks. According to the New Jersey Department of Transportation, there is no state law prohibiting or authorizing this activity. Some towns have passed local ordinances against bicycles on sidewalks to ensure pedestrian safety. Except for young, inexperienced bike riders, bicycles should be ridden on streets and not on sidewalks.
Whether you are a young rider, casual bicyclist or a seasoned road warrior, knowing the rules of the road will keep you safe and allow you to enjoy the journey.
Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner will discuss “Vacation rental laws.”
Victoria M. Dalton is a dedicated Family/Elder Law Attorney with the Law Offices of Hoffman DiMuzio. Email correspondence to [email protected] or call 856-845-8243.
Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational material about the law and is not legal advice.