Tips: Bicycle Safety

New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer stressed the importance of bicycle safety on New Jersey roads, noting that 11 lives have already been lost in bike-related crashes in the state this year, while a total of 12 bike fatalities occurred in 2007.

"We've seen nearly as many bike fatalities already this year as we did for all of 2007," Fischer said. "Clearly, as more people opt to use bikes as cost-effective transportation for day-to-day activities, we must make sure riders understand not only how to safely operate a bike, but how to share the road with motorists."

Under New Jersey law, a bike is considered a vehicle, and riders must obey the same laws as motorists when on the roadways, including traveling with traffic and obeying all traffic signals and signs. In addition, bicycles should be properly maintained, and the correct safety gear, including helmets, should be used.

Fischer was joined at the event by representatives from TransOptions, a non-profit transportation management association that provides commuter options for people traveling in northwestern New Jersey. Active for 22 years, the organization is a business-government partnership that encourages commuters and residents to use alternative modes of transportation to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.

"We at TransOptions promote bicycling to work as an alternative way for people to commute and save gas, improve air quality and get some health benefits. But it is equally important that bicycling is done safely for the protection of the cyclist and vehicle drivers. We must educate all about the rules of the road," said John F. Ciaffone, President, TransOptions.

To avoid serious injuries while bike riding, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety offers the following safety tips:

  • Never ride a bike without a helmet. The law requires anyone under the age of 17 to wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet, but all riders are strongly encouraged to use one. Head injuries, the most common cause of death among cyclists, can be reduced 85 percent by wearing a helmet.
  • Wear bright clothing.
  • Make sure your bike has reflectors. If you plan to ride at night, install a white light on the front and a red light on the rear of the bike.
  • New Jersey law requires all bikes to have a horn or a bell. This safety equipment can help alert both motorists and pedestrians to your presence on the roadway.
  • Ride single file with the flow of traffic on the right side of the road.
  • Use proper turning and stopping hand signals.
  • When approaching an intersection, proceed with caution, looking left, right and left again. Walk the bike across the intersection.
  • Make sure the bike is regularly maintained and all equipment is working. Tires should be properly inflated, and wheels straight and secure.

Additional information on bicycle safety, as well as related traffic safety initiatives, is available on the Division's web site, at www.njsaferoads.com.

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