Safe Routes Scoop

Safe Bicycling and the Law

near to the right side of the roadway as practicable…”  The key to this provision is the word “practicable.”  Practicable does not mean possible. Bicyclists may move to the left to avoid debris, road hazards, and to stay out of the “door zone” of parked cars.  Bicyclists may also move left to make a left turn or to pass a slower moving vehicle. Also, a bicyclist may “occupy any available lane when traveling at the same speed as other traffic.”  Finally, bicyclists are allowed to travel up to two abreast, when doing so will not impede traffic.  This rule does not apply to bike lanes or paths (39:4-14.2).


Riding at night

Every bicycle ridden at night should be equipped with a white front head lamp and a red tail lamp both visible at a distance of 500 feet.  In addition, a white front reflector, red rear reflector and wheel reflectors are recommended; however, it is not legal to ride at night only with reflectors.  A wide variety of energy efficient, long lasting LED lights are available for night riding. See more in NJ Walks and Bikes Issue 3: “Walking and Bicycling at Night.”


Riding on the sidewalk

Riding on the sidewalk is legal in New Jersey, but municipalities have the right to enact ordinances that limit bicycle riding on sidewalks.  These municipal ordinances typically prohibit sidewalk riding in downtown areas or to persons over a certain age

(usually 14 or 16.)  Even where sidewalk cycling is not prohibited, adults should ride in the roadway in a legal manner.  At intersections, motorists can see bicyclists more easily when they are in the roadway instead of on the sidewalk.


Bicycle helmets

Wearing bicycle helmets are required by law only for children under the age of 17 when riding any non-motorized vehicle (bike, scooter, skateboard, etc.)  However, helmets are always recommended for riders no matter their age. 



Better education of cyclists and motorists is critical to improve safety. Here are some of the bike safety programs available in New Jersey:


The New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety has produced hang tags with bike safety tips that can be attached to a bicycle. The hang tags have been distributed to police, bike retailers, college campuses, traffic safety organizations, and transportation management associations (TMAs).  The tag provides information in both English and Spanish.


Bike Safety from the NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety -


The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) offers information on bicycling regulations

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