Road Safety Tips for NJ Cyclists
As Cycling Season Begins in New Jersey, Think Safety First
The good news is that as of May 6, State Police were reporting that the total number of cyclists killed in New Jersey traffic in 2019 was zero. But, if you’re not part of a dedicated cycling club that operates all year long, your cycling season is probably just starting.
New Jersey has dozens of bicycle clubs throughout the state which provide an opportunity to get together for training, recreation, and socializing. Belonging to a club is a great way to commit to getting in shape, enjoy the outdoors and, perhaps most importantly, reinforce important safety standards that help to prevent potentially deadly accidents.
One of the Garden State’s largest clubs is the Morris Area Free Wheelers (MAFW), which boasts membership of more than 700 cyclists between the ages of 18 and 85. The club stresses that its “Members should be aware that every person riding a bicycle on a roadway is granted all the rights and subject to all of the duties of the motor vehicle driver.” One of the first rules of MAFW is that “Members shall obey all motor vehicle and bicycle laws of the state(s) in which they are riding.” An important law that MAFW supports states that riders must form a single file when traffic can be impeded. It’s vitally important that groups of cyclists not form amorphous blobs along the side of the road, distracting and frustrating drivers who might then be more prone to accidentally striking a rider.
The club’s tips on “Ride Etiquette” are worth reproducing here in their entirety:
- Be predictable. Call out your intentions, e.g., slowing, stopping, etc. Use hand signals.
- Call out and point to hazards e.g., Hole! Rough Road! Car Back! Glass! Gravel! etc.
- Immediately single-up when you hear “car back” and repeat the warning so that riders in front of you are alerted.
- With few exceptions always pass other riders on the left. In all cases, whenever passing a rider the “overtaking” rider shall call out “on your left” or “on your right” as the case may be.
- Stop to regroup after crossing a traffic-light controlled intersection so that riders who may not have been able to “make the light” will not be encouraged to cross on the red.
- Members must be courteous and share the road with motorized vehicles, pedestrians and other cyclists. This includes riding single file on busy roads, singling up quickly when “car back” is called, and leaving gaps in long pace lines to allow vehicles to safely pass.
- Notify the ride leader if you decide to “drop” or leave a ride before its completion.
- All members are strongly encouraged to accept valid criticism graciously and understand that the person delivering such criticism is doing so in the best interest of the club and all of its members.
Besides proper etiquette, the right clothing and equipment can also keep you safe. The bike itself should be well maintained and made visible with lights and reflectors. Riders should also wear a properly fitted helmet and clothing that is appropriately bright, especially at night. Finally, choose a route that matches your skill level and check the weather before your venture out.
At Brach Eichler, we have represented many injured cyclists, as well as the grieving families of cyclists killed in traffic accidents. Cyclists often sustain painful fractures to their collar bones from being thrown over their handlebars. Concussions and traumatic brain injury are also common, when a cyclist strikes his head on the pavement or a curb. Riders can also be crushed if a motor vehicle rolls up on top of them. We urge you to ride safely to avoid being the cause of any accident you are involved in. However, if a negligent driver injures you or a loved one while you’re riding, we are here to fight for the justice you deserve.