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Shared Roads, Shared Responsibilities for Bicyclists and Motorists

Bicycling organizations throughout state call on both bike riders and drivers to work together.

Tensions between bicyclists and motorists are in the spotlight this summer and we believe it’s time we all took more responsibility for cooling the confrontation and sharing the road.

We represent bicycle clubs and organizations with over 2,000 members in NW and Central NJ. Each of us is also a motorist. We understand sharing the road from behind the wheel of a car as well as on a bicycle.

We are as upset as anyone when a bicyclist does not ride safely or a group of cyclists block the road and surround a car as reportedly happened in Tewksbury this summer. Our organizations train riders on safe road sharing, criticize riders who do not, and are ready to work with police and town officials to make the roads safe for all.

We also know, firsthand, the consequences when a car or truck weighing two tons or more collides with a rider on a bicycle that weighs about 25 pounds. Our hearts go out to the families of the four cyclists alleged to have been hit from behind, sending two to the hospital as happened in Sussex County this spring.

To the motorist, the consequence of driving safely and sharing the road may be a short delay. The consequence to the bicyclist could be his or her life.

Our plea to both bicyclists and motorists is simple: When we share the road, share the responsibility.

For bicyclists, that means riding single file as safely to the right as is safe and never more than two, side-by-side, even in the absence of traffic. It means being alert to traffic conditions and observing traffic signage. It means learning and following the laws that govern us, participating in safe riding clinics, and keeping our cool when drivers do not. 

For drivers, it means understanding bicyclists have a right to be on the road, that one of them could be your neighbor or a relative, and that passing safely does sometimes mean slowing down and giving the bicyclist three feet or more of clearance. Please don’t honk, tailgate, or floor it to pass. And please keep your cool even when the bicyclist does not.

We all can benefit from more dialogue and less road rage. There’s room for all of us on the roads we all pay for—and have a right to share. We’re sure that there’s not a single bicyclist or a single driver who gets out of bed in the morning with the idea of creating a dangerous situation. Let’s all work together to make our roads safer for all.

Jay Marowitz, President, Morris Area Freewheelers Bicycle Club
Jim Hunt,
Chair, Morris Area Freewheelers Foundation
Mike Kruimer,
President, Central Jersey Bicycle Club
John Kinsey,
President, Bedminster Flyers Cycling Club
Cyndi Steiner,
Executive Director, New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition
Ethan Brook,
President, Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey

Marshall Krugman September 06, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Although I'm sure they exist I don't recall seeing any efforts to educate the public, drivers and riders alike, in safety measures and procedures for bicyclists. This past summer I have witnessed a number of unsafe cyclist practices among both young and adult riders. I focus on bicyclists because they are by far more vulnerable than drivers on the road. An encounter between a bicycle and a car is by far more dangerous for the bicyclist no matter who is right. Drivers are prone to "bicycle blindness" (they can be staring directly at a bicycle and still not see it). It is encumbent upon the bicyclist to ride defensively as if his life is at stake if he does not.
cnewman September 07, 2012 at 12:19 AM
i have no idea where you drive, but i do not see cyclists riding in the middle of the road and i go to work 5 days a week, so i spend a fair amount of time in my crv! When i come upon a cyclist i slow down! i don't know if any of you are bike riders, but even in my 60's i like to get on my bike and ride around town from time to time - it is a great pleasure to do something i so enjoyed as a child - you all need to lighten up!
twogirls84 September 07, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Well said. (...and I am the wife of an avid cyclist!)
Jeanette Smith September 07, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Every Saturday morning on Mountain Road between Summit and Berkeley Heights there are packs of riders. They ride 4 bikes across blocking the entire lane. As a former competitive long distance rider this is extremely frustrating to me. When I have rolled down my window to remind two across they usually always give me a very fun gesture and don't appreciate the advice. Also, many don't wear brain buckets. They are required for a reason!
cnewman September 07, 2012 at 12:05 PM
i have never seen this, but if so, maybe you can tell them either move over or you will photo with cell phone and call local police???

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