Law protecting cyclists, pedestrians goes into effect in New Jersey

HACKENSACK, NJ – In the Garden State, the time has come for drivers to move over for cyclists or face fines.

The New Jersey Safe Passing Law is now in effect.

Driving along a popular cycling route in Bergen County, CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock caught up with a cyclist from Queens – from a safe distance – and started a conversation about drivers.

“Here in New Jersey, they are good. New York is bad,” the cyclist said.

Michael Price, of the Upper East Side, thinks in general, though, drivers respect those who share the road.

“Occasionally you see some hothead zooming up 9W fast,” he said.

Not every cyclist who spoke to CBS2 felt the same.

“Cars would just be zooming, and it’s dangerous,” said Jose Antonio Tan, of Sunnyside, Queens.

Tan shares he really worries about friends who just picked up the sport during the pandemic.

Not a single cyclist Murdock spoke to knew about the New Jersey Safe Passing Law, so she filled them in.

Under the law, if possible, drivers must move over an entire lane or put at least 4 feet between their vehicle and the cyclist. If neither of those options are possible, drivers must pass at no more than 25 mph.

The law also applies to pedestrians without a sidewalk to walk on, those with mobility issues cruising along on electric scooters and skateboarders.

“Hopefully it helps,” one cyclist said.

“That’s great,” Price said.

“That’s beautiful,” another cyclist said.

“The goal of the New Jersey Safe Passing Law is to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on our roads,” said Debra Kagan, executive director of the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition.

She says the law is now a necessity, especially after a deadly 2021.

“The highest fatalities, particularly among pedestrians and bicyclists, since 1989,” Kagan said.

A total of 246 people were killed.

Avid cyclist Jean Lyons says she had a close encounter and had to stop herself short. So does the new law make her feel more secure?

“If cars become aware of it,” she said.

Those who violate the law face a fine of $ 100. If a driver hurts someone, the fine increases to $ 500 with two points on their license.

“That’s alright. I got no problem with that,” one man said.

“Wow. Wow, so Jersey’s looking out for cyclists,” East Orange resident Omega Sello said.

They’re hoping to save lives by solidifying the rules of the road.

A community education campaign launches in May, and officers are being trained on the new law.

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