Recently in California several members of a group of cyclists were injured when they were clipped by a truck that was trying to pass them. Nine cyclists were on a 30-mile group ride when the incident occurred. The driver of the truck apparently tried to pass the group by squeezing between the group and oncoming traffic. Cyclists and their bikes were scattered along the road after the truck mirror hit them and knocked them to the ground. According to California’s “safe passing” law, drivers have to be at least three feet away from a bicyclist when they pass them.

However, New Jersey is one of a few states, and the only state in the Northeast, that does not have a specific “safe passing” statute setting the minimum safe passing distance between a motor vehicle and a bicycle. While general rules of caution still apply, in the absence of a safe passing law, bicyclists on group rides, as well as motorists in New Jersey, should exercise extra caution and be sure to learn and follow the rules of the road.

Here are a few reminders about passing safety in New Jersey:

  • Cyclists should not ride more than 2 abreast and should revert to single-file when traffic is approaching from the rear.
  • Cyclists are generally required to ride to the right side of the travel lane, and should keep as far right as possible given the conditions and preserving their general safety.

As cyclists have the same general rights as a “motorist,” a car seeking to pass should treat them like a slow moving vehicle, abiding by the general rules for safe passing.