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