When bikes are riding on the streets and roads in New Jersey, who has the right-of-way? Can a bike just ride in the middle of the road? Does a car have to ever yield to a cyclist?
In New Jersey, a cyclist has all the rights and duties a motorist has (NJS 39:4-14.1). This means that a bike can ride in the streets along with the cars and must be treated the same for purposes of rights-of-way. However, another NJ law says that if a bike can’t keep up with traffic, it has to ride on the right side of the right-hand lane. The cyclist can also ride in a bike lane if one exists but is not required to ride in the bike lane.
Traffic Lane Right-of-Way
This means that if a cyclist is riding in traffic in the center portion of a lane and is going roughly the same speed as traffic, then a motorist can’t pass them in the same lane or force them over to the right. Also, anytime a vehicle is riding in its designated lane of traffic, another vehicle has to give that vehicle the right-of-way regarding that lane.
Thus, if a cyclist is riding in a bike lane, then it has the right-of-way when a car wants to cross the lane to make a turn or to park.
Narrow Road Right-of-Way
NJS 39:4-14.2: Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction; provided, however, that any person may move to the left under any of the following situations:
- to make a left turn from a left-turn lane or pocket;
- to avoid debris, drains or other hazardous conditions that make it impracticable to ride at the right side of the roadway;
- to pass a slower moving vehicle;
- to occupy any available lane when traveling at the same speed as other traffic;
- to travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded.
In b above, the law states that if riding on the right-side is impracticable, then the cyclist can move to the left. This applies when a road is too narrow for the cyclist to safely ride on the right side of the right lane.
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