While most of those on Long Beach Island last week were enjoying dinner out, or miniature golf, or a late day at the beach, two Surf City residents spent their Wednesday evening at the borough council meeting on July 11 in an attempt to resolve a problem that plagues the entire barrier island: safe roads. Their concern isn’t new, but instead of just complaining about bicyclists not adhering to traffic laws on social media, they took their concerns to borough officials for a solution.
Jean Daniels, who lives on 18th Street, said she doesn’t want to see anyone get hurt.
“I agree with you,” Mayor Francis Hodgson said when the discussion about bicyclists who don’t follow the traffic signals began.
The problem isn’t just with bicyclists, borough Police Chief Jack Casella said.
“We’re finding the same problem with pedestrians and motorists,” he said, adding borough officers this summer have a walking beat in an attempt to get the word out about pedestrian and bicycle safety as well as sharing the roads with moving vehicles.
The rules of the road for bicyclists in New Jersey fall under Chapter 39, which also dictates motor vehicle and traffic laws. The law is clear: Bicyclists must obey all state and local automobile driving laws.
“You must ride as nearly as practicable to the right side of the roadway,” Casella said in an alert released July 13 and shared across social media, to the relief of many. “You may only occupy the lane when you must to avoid a hazard, pass slower moving traffic, to make a left turn or if you are traveling the same speed as traffic. If you can’t keep up with traffic, you are obstructing the flow of traffic and breaking the motor vehicle law.”
The chief went on to remind bicyclists they cannot ride more than two abreast and they can do that only if it doesn’t impede traffic.
“You are not a pedestrian and must obey the motor vehicles laws, including stopping at red lights and stopping and yielding the right-of-way at stop signs,” Casella said. “If you want the right of way as a pedestrian, dismount your bicycle and do not remount until you have crossed the road.”
Here are a few more points to remember about bicycling in New Jersey:
• Bicyclists should ride about 4 feet from parked cars to avoid the possibility of having a door opened in their path.
• When in use at night every bicycle should have a white-light front headlamp visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front, a rear lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the rear, and a red reflector mounted on the rear of the bicycle.
• A bicycle must be equipped with a bell or other audible device that can be heard at least 100 feet away, but not a siren or whistle.
As for pedestrians, Casella said walkers, joggers and runners must cross roads in a crosswalk or where one would normally be located.
“They have no right of way crossing in the middle of the roadway and must yield to vehicle traffic,” the chief said. “They can’t cross until it’s safe for them to enter the roadway.”
As an example, Casella said it takes a car on dry pavement about 11 feet to stop at 30 mph when the driver sees something in the roadway.
Pedestrians, according to the chief, can cross only on a green light or when the pedestrian signal indicates walk at a controlled intersection “even if the drivers break the law and stop for you to cross,” in the middle of the roadway.
Casella wants pedestrians to know even if the conditions at the crosswalks are perfect, walkers are not indestructible.
“You can be lost in the ever-widening front windshield posts or still fall prey to distracted driving, so please stay alert and walk facing traffic,” he said, adding a motorist has one job, and that’s to focus on the road. “Drive cautiously and defensively, with consideration for others. Don’t hit anyone or anything. It’s that simple.”
— Gina G. Scala