Cycling Law NJ: When It’s OK to Occupy a Lane of Traffic

Did you know: In NJ, if a road has no or very little shoulder a bicyclist may occupy the lane of traffic and automobiles must treat the cyclist like another vehicle. #CyclingLawNJ

Bicycling in New Jersey is regulated under Title 39 of the Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulation laws.

N.J.S.A. 39:4-14.1 Rights and Duties of Persons on Bicycles:

Every person riding a bicycle on a roadway is granted all the rights and subject to all of the duties of the motor vehicle driver.

N.J.S.A. 39:4-14.2, 39:4-10.11 Operating Regulations:

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.

 

4 thoughts on “Cycling Law NJ: When It’s OK to Occupy a Lane of Traffic”

    1. As a further reply, N.J.S.A. 39:4-14.2, 39:4-10.11 provide: 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.

      The key language is “shall ride as near to the right roadside as practicable”. That would be the shoulder of the road.

  1. It is ALWAYS legal for bikes to occupy a lane of traffic. It is ILLEGAL for bikes to ride on the shoulder.

    39:4-14.1 Rights, duties of bicycle riders on roadways, exemptions.

    16. a. Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by chapter four of Title 39 of the Revised Statutes and all supplements thereto except as to those provisions thereof which by their nature can have no application.

    Since vehicles are allowed to occupy a lane, bikes are allowed 100% of the time. Since vehicles are not allowed to occupy shoulders, bikers are not allowed 100% of the time.

    1. Absolutely false interpretation of the law. This is called a logical fallacy, much like the witch scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Your logic fails like this: For purposes of right of way, bicycles are treated like vehicles; because bikes are treated like vehicles, bikes are vehicles; since vehicles are not ever allowed in the shoulder (which in and of itself is incorrect), bikes are never allowed in the shoulder.

      The error is that bikes are not vehicles. Bikers ARE allowed in the shoulder at all times (in the same direction of traffic). This is the part of the statute that reads “except as to those provisions thereof which by their nature can have no application.” Further, vehicles ARE allowed in the shoulder in certain circumstances – to avoid an accident; when it is safe to pass on the right; when an emergency vehicle needs to pass; and other situations.

      By your analysis, a biker can’t even be in the shoulder to avoid an accident with a vehicle. That is an absurd interpretation.

      Be careful to make such assertions without more careful analysis and don’t provide legal analysis unless you have a license to practice law and have actually handled a case involving the referenced statute.

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