To the Editor:
In June 2021, with overwhelming bi-partisan support, the New Jersey Legislature passed the New Jersey Passing Law (“Safe Passing Law”). In August 2021, Governor Murphy signed the Safe Passing Law. Accordingly, this law officially went into effect In March 2022.
Under the Safe Passing Law, drivers in New Jersey, when passing cyclists or pedestrians, must move over one lane if it’s safe to do so. If moving over one lane isn’t possible or safe, drivers must allow four feet of space between their vehicle and the cyclist or the pedestrian until they’ve safely passed them. In the event this spacing isn’t possible to safely allow for four feet of clearance between the vehicle and cyclist/pedestrian, the driver must slow their vehicle to 25 mph while passing, and be ready to brake if necessary.
Drivers who fail to follow the directives contained in the Safe Passing Law can be fined $100. In addition, in the event a driver fails to follow the directive, and as a result an accident occurs between a driver and a cyclist/pedestrian that causes bodily injury, the driver will be fined $500, and two points will be added to their driving record.
The law could not come at a better time. As reported by the New Jersey State Police in their annual traffic data report, the number of pedestrian and cyclist’s deaths have reached an astronomical level in New Jersey. In 2021 alone, there were 23 cyclists and 219 pedestrians killed in traffic accidents in New Jersey. Those traffic fatalities, by group, are the highest numbers since 1989.
While the Safe Passing Law is a significant step forward in making New Jersey roads a safer place for cyclists and pedestrians, we can be sure we will continue to encounter some negligent drivers while cycling or walking. Negligent drivers will continue to present a clear and present danger while we are riding or walking on the road. Therefore, cyclists need to remain vigilant and ensure we are riding safely, and that we are following all of the rules of the road and best practices for cyclists, e.g., wearing helmets, use of lights and reflectors, single file riding when riding in group rides, and riding with properly maintained bicycles. Likewise, walkers need to be vigilant to make sure they are walking in the proper direction on public roads and that they are keeping their wits about them. As important, for both groups, serious interactions with motorists are more likely to occur when riding or walking in the early morning hours, or late afternoon/evening hours of the day. Therefore, we all should try to avoid wearing dark colored clothing during those hours and opt instead with some bright color apparel when walking or riding during those hours.
We ask you to share the information above with you family members, friends and neighbors so that we all can have a safe and enjoyable 2022 when recreating outdoors. Should you have any questions on the Safe Passing Law, or any other safety tips you can employ to continue to ride or walk safely, please feel free to contact us at skylandscycling.com.
Skyland Cycling Board of Directors