New Jersey Bike Laws

New Jersey Bike Laws

Definition
“Bicycle” means any two-wheeled vehicle having a rear drive which is solely human powered and having a seat height of 25 inches or greater when the seat is in the lowest adjustable position. Source § 39:4-14.5

image of a bicycle helmet on the ground

New Jersey Helmet Law

In New Jersey, anyone under 17 years of age that rides a bicycle or is a passenger on a bicycle, or is towed as a passenger by a bicycle must wear a safety helmet. All helmets must be properly fastened and fitted.

The definition of bicycle with reference to the helmet legislation is a vehicle with two wheels propelled solely by human power and having pedals, handle bars and a saddle-like seat. The term shall include a bicycle for two or more persons having seats and corresponding pedals arranged in tandem.

Helmet Standards:

  • Bicycle helmets must meet the federal standards developed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) effective March 10, 1999 that ensure the best head protection and strong chin straps to keep the helmet in place during a fall or collision.
  • Also acceptable are helmets meeting the Snell Memorial Foundation’s 1990 Standard for Protection Headgear.

Exemptions from the Helmet Requirement:

  • Persons who operate or ride a bicycle (as a driver or a passenger) on a roadway closed to motor traffic
  • Persons riding on a trail, route, course, boardwalk, path or area set aside only for the use of bicycles

These exemptions do not apply if the areas of operation are adjacent to a roadway and not separated from motor vehicle traffic by a barrier that prevents the bicycle from entering the roadway. Bicyclists or passengers operating in an area where helmets are not required who need to cross a road or highway should walk with the bicycle.

Penalties for Failing to Wear a Helmet:

  • Initial violators of the helmet law will receive warnings.
  • For minors, the parent or legal guardian may be fined a maximum of $25 for the 1st offense and a maximum of $100 for subsequent offense(s), if lack of parental supervision contributed to the offense. Source § 39:4-10.1

Lights & Reflectors on Bicycles

When in use at nighttime every bicycle shall be equipped with: 1) A front headlamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front; 2) A rear lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the rear; 3) In addition to the red lamp a red reflector may be mounted on the rear. Source § 39:4-10

Brakes

A bicycle must be equipped with a brake that can make wheels skid while stopping on dry, level, clean pavement. Source § 39:4-11.1

Audible Signal

A bicycle must be equipped with a bell or other audible device that can be heard at least 100 feet away, but not a siren or whistle. Source: NJ Rev Stat § 39:4-11 (2013)

Feet and Hands on Pedals and Handlebars; Carrying Another Person

Bicyclists should not drive the bicycle with feet removed from the pedals, or with both hands removed from the handlebars, nor practice any trick or fancy driving in a street. Limit passengers to only the number the bicycle is designed and equipped to carry (the number of seats it has). Source § 39:4-12

Hitching on Vehicle Prohibited

No person riding a bicycle shall attach themselves to any streetcar or vehicle. Source: NJ Rev Stat § 39:4-14 (2013)

Rights and Duties of Persons on Bicycles

Every person riding a bicycle on a roadway is granted all the rights and subject to all the duties of the motor vehicle driver. Regulations applicable to bicycles apply whenever a bicycle is operated upon any highway or upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles subject to those exceptions stated herein. Source § 39:4-14.1

Operating Regulations: Keep to right; Exceptions; Single File

Every person riding a bicycle on a roadway shall ride as near to the right roadside as practicable exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction. A bicyclist may move left under any of the following conditions: 1) To make a left turn from a left turn lane or pocket; 2) To avoid debris, drains, or other hazardous conditions on the right; 3) To pass a slower moving vehicle; 4) To occupy any available lane when traveling at the same speed as other traffic; 5) To travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded, but otherwise ride in single file. Every person riding a bicycle shall ride in the same direction as vehicular traffic.

In New Jersey, the law states a bicyclist must obey all state and local automobile driving laws. A parent may be held responsible for the child’s violation of any traffic law. Source § 39:4-14.2; § 39:4-10.11

Areas Not Expressly Addressed by NJ State Laws:

  • Riding on Sidewalk - Although New Jersey does not prohibit riding a bicycle on a sidewalk, some municipalities have passed ordinances prohibiting bicycle traffic on certain sidewalks (and is usually posted) In New Jersey, sidewalks are for pedestrians and bike traffic can lead to crashes. Except for very young cyclists under parental supervision, sidewalks are not for bicycling.
  • Using Headphones - Current NJ state law does not expressly prohibit riding a bike with headphones.
  • Safe Passing Laws - Current NJ law does not have a safe passing law as it relates to bicycles.

For More information on New Jersey Laws related to Cycling:

Bike Shops & Advocacy Groups

At Piscitello Law, we strive to provide accurate and current information related to Philadelphia and New Jersey’s robust cycling communities. We are lucky to have a number of bicycle shops and advocacy groups locally available to cyclists in need of repairs and assistance.

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