Hey you, Bicyclist, Read Below!

fitness webI’m driving my daughter to her equestrian team practice and I come upon two groups of bicyclists riding in packs pretty close to each other. As I approach the first group, slowing down to prepare to pass, it becomes pretty clear that the one riding abreast (that’s side-by-side) of another does not intend to make any attempt to move further to the right to allow me to pass. Long sigh.

As I approach the second group, I experience the same as I am forced to wait for the passing of a vehicle coming the opposite way before I can maneuver around this group of seemingly oblivious riders.

I’m being kind in my description. But as I pass this group, I decide to roll down my passenger window and to let them know they should be in single file. The response I get is a loud, “Shut up”.

My previous description of “oblivious” has now upgraded to “inconsiderate” (prefix deleted). I’ve written columns based on this subject, knowing that many motorists face this same problem. Let me make it clear that I am in no way against bike riders. In fact both my husband and I ride a lot and have experience in having taken part in triathlons as well as numerous MS 150 bike-a-thons and totally understand the challenges of sharing the roadways with motor vehicles. However there is a right way and a wrong way of doing so. Since my previous columns have either been missed or ignored by certain bicyclists, I’ve decided to make it really clear where the law stands on this issue this time.

The following comes from Title 39 of the NJ Motor Vehicles and Traffic Laws: 39:4-14.2

“Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction; provided, however, that any person may move to the left under any of the following situations: (a) to make a left turn from a left turn lane or pocket; (b) to avoid debris, drains, or other hazardous conditions that make it impractical to ride at the right side of roadway;(c) to pass a slower moving vehicle; (d) to occupy any available lane when traveling at the same speed as other traffic; (e) to travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded.

Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded, but otherwise shall ride in single file except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

An extra FYI for those oblivious and/or inconsiderate riders: “exercising due care” translates to being aware of and considerate to motorists and the law; “proceeding in the same direction” means cars coming up behind you and/or trying to pass; “when traffic is not impeded” means when no cars are behind you needing to keep traveling at normal speed or not being BLOCKED by you; main parts of roadways ARE NOT set aside for “exclusive use of bikes”.

Additional note to rude man and his crowd riding bikes on Mill Road last month: “Considerate” means not shouting ‘SHUT-UP’ to someone reminding you to follow the rules of the road.

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