Back in June, when two teenagers riding on a bike eastbound and downhill on Garfield Avenue and flowed right onto Davis Avenue into traffic without braking, the pair was sent flying high into the air after they slammed right into an oncoming mini-van.
Both ended up curbside, in the street, having been slammed to the ground.s
Both teens, perhaps by the grace of God, survived.
Neither of the two were wearing a helmet, though they were required to do so since they were under 17.
So this public-service announcement, though it may seem elementary — or while it may seem like common sense — is designed to shed light on a clear problem on our streets: Cyclists and motorists must all do a better job of keeping each other safe.
The Kearny Police Department, through Det. John Fabula, who occasionally rides a bike in the department’s Community Oriented Policing Unit, offered a series of tips to keep everyone on the road safe. It all starts with the helmet. Hear that, parents? Helmets are needed for all kids riding bikes. Hear that adults? Even though they’re not required by law, it’s time to get serious and invest in a helmet for your bike riding escapades.
But it goes well beyond helmet-wearing, Fabula says.
“Always ride on the right side of the road, with traffic,” he says. “Riding against traffic will put you where motorists don’t expect you. An example of this is when a car is making a right turn at an intersection. Drivers are generally looking left to make sure it’s clear to turn right and may not see a bicycle riding against the flow until it is too late.”
This concept is not optional. You wouldn’t “pretend” to be driving a car in England now, would you? So why do it with a bike?
“Bicycles are considered vehicles and must obey the same rules as motorists,” he says.
Being visible to motorists and ensuring your bike is in proper working order is also essential.
“Wear clothes that make you more visible,” Fabula says. “Bicycles must be equipped with a horn or bell. Use the horn or bell to alert drivers and pedestrians of your presence. Make sure your bicycle is in good working order before setting out on a ride. Your wheels should be straight and shouldn’t have any side to side play. Make sure your seat and handlebars are properly tightened.”
MAYBE NEW ‘MOVE OVER’ LAW WILL HELP?
Just last week, Gov. Philip D. Murphy, D-Red Bank, signed into law a bill that requires drivers on Jersey roads to move over for people walking on sidewalk-less roads in rural areas and those riding bikes, scooters, skateboards, Little Rascal-type scooters, etc., anywhere.
The new law requires drivers to move over a lane if another one exists — or if driving on a single lane, putting at least 4-feet of space between the vehicle and the pedestrian/rider. If a road’s speed limit is greater than 25 MPH, drivers must slow down to 25 MPH if the 4-foot shift away from the pedestrian is impossible.
The bill carries a $100 fine for violations — and up to $500 in fines if a motorist didn’t move over but could have and caused serious bodily harm to a pedestrian.
The bill passed unanimously in the state Assembly and only one state senator, a Republican, voted against the measure.
By adopting it, New Jersey became the 43rd state in the union to adopt such a law.
And maybe, just maybe, this new law will prevent the next bicycle crash from becoming a fatal one.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.