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NPPD Crime Prevention Tip:

Bicycle Safety Roundup


In two other articles we reviewed bicycle theft and the importance of wearing a helmet.    To finish the series, we will review road placement when riding a bicycle and the use of accessories.

First, when riding a bicycle on a public roadway it is required by Title 39, New Jersey Motor Vehicle and Traffic law that the cyclist “keep right” and ride with the flow of traffic.  The law also specifies that the cyclist ride “as far to the right as is practicable”.  This exposes the cyclist to some hazards, but in general cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.  Bicyclists must always maintain a mind set of riding defensively.  One hazard is that of parked vehicles and the opening of car doors into the lane of traffic.  The cyclist must be aware of occupied parked vehicles and the potential of an opening door.  While riding as far right as practicable, traffic crossing the cyclist path may not see the cyclist, so the cyclist must ride defensibly and react to vehicles or pedestrians crossing his or her path.  Cyclist must also be aware of traffic next to and behind them at all times in case of a need to change lanes due to obstructions in their line of travel.

Next is a review of accessories that will increase the safety of cyclists.  No matter the level of lighting it is a good ides to wear a reflective vest or reflective clothing while sharing the road with motor vehicles.  The attention drawing colors and designs will bring the focus of the drivers to the cyclist and generate awareness, thereby increasing safety.  The bicycle should also be equipped with reflectors on its wheels, pedals and frame points, creating what is called a signature pattern outlining the bicycle.

If anticipating riding in darkness a headlamp is required by law.  This item will increase the safety margin substantially, by not only illuminating the roadway for hazards, but also advising motorists of the presence of a bicycle, thereby reducing the possibility of a left turning vehicle not seeing the cyclist.  In low light environments a flashing red light should also be mounted at the rear of the bicycle.  With the advent of LED lights and microprocessors, powerful bicycles lights can now be found which are affordable, long lasting and effective.

The law also requires a cyclist to equip his bicycle with an audible warning devise.  If going on long rides a spare tube and some simple repair tools are also suggested.  If ridding in hot weather a bottle carrier is a necessity for hydration.

When cycling in New Jersey, it is important to remember that not all drivers of vehicles   expect and react well to cyclists sharing the roadway.  Extra responsibility falls on the cyclist to remain safe.  With our present lifestyle of long working hours, quick unhealthy meals and no exercise, cycling is a great opportunity as a commuting vehicle to incorporate travel and exercise into a healthy lifestyle.  Remember that this years “Ride to Work Day” will be held July18th and a quick internet search with provide with countless tips and motivation to get on the road safely.  Enjoy.