NJ drivers, cyclists frequently at odds, fighting on state roadways
🚲 NJ drivers and cyclists are getting into arguments & fights
🚲 Some motorists don’t understand the Safe Passing Law
🚲 NJ drivers encouraged to take a breath and chill out
You see it all the time on New Jersey roadways - motorists beeping their horns and yelling at groups of bicyclists blocking traffic, and cyclists yelling and shaking their fingers back at drivers.
Not surprisingly a new survey finds relationships between cyclists and drivers in New Jersey are among the worst in the nation.
According to the survey Jersey cyclists rate their relationship with drivers at a lowly 6 out of 10.
Confusion about the law
According to Paul Mickiewicz the program director for the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition, and a certified bike instructor, confusion about the law may be part of the problem.
He said if there is a wide shoulder on the side of the road that’s where a cyclist should be, but if there is not, the cyclist has the right to be riding in the lane used by cars, and the state’s safe passing law requires drivers to have at least 4 feet of space to be able to pass a vulnerable road user, which includes somebody on a bicycle.
“Motorists are very upset with cyclists in the road, and they have no idea that the cyclist is doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said.
What should be happening
He explained that means if you’re driving on a road with a bicyclist “and if there’s not a 4 foot space to make a safe pass you need to slow down to at least 25 miles per hour and wait for a moment to make a safe pass without endangering the road user.”
He said if you are passing a cyclist “that means you need a certain amount of sightline to see ahead and judge speeds and say okay there’s nobody coming in the opposite direction, I can move over into the oncoming lane.”
Mickiewicz said some drivers start to immediately get frustrated “they get kind of antsy, they’re waiting, they’re waiting, and in too often a case they make a very tight pass and it is very unnerving if you’re riding a bike.”
What’s the solution for roadway peace?
He said instead of getting enraged motorists just need to take a breath, wait a moment, and look for a safe place to make a safe pass.”
Mickiewicz stressed the problem is there are some drivers in the Garden State “that are in such a rush that they just have no tolerance for having to slow up at all, if they have to decelerate, that drives them nuts.”
He added another part of the problem is since the pandemic began police departments all over the state seem to be handing out fewer citations to drivers, and a lot of people are driving faster than they used to.
The survey commissioned by Bisnar Chase also found 1 out of 10 drivers never check behind them before opening a car door, 28% of drivers admit they get angry at people riding bikes and 52% of cyclists say they have experienced road rage after a altercation with a motorist.
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
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