Recent Cyclist Death Highlights the Dangers of Bicycling in New Jersey


Bicycle vs. motor vehicle accidents continue to take their toll in New Jersey. A 12-year old boy, newly arrived from Albania, was killed in an accident with a box truck while riding his bike in Garfield. Although this investigation is ongoing, the crash is another example of how dangerous many New Jersey roads are for bicycles.

With an annual average of 1.7 deaths from bicycle accidents per million residents, our state does not have the worst record in the U.S. (data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). In fact, we fall roughly in the middle; Florida has the most deaths per capita with an average of 5.7 deaths per million each year. But bicyclists in Florida and other warmer states can ride year-round, while New Jersey has a more limited bicycle season. 

But even one fatality is too many. Can bicycling in New Jersey be made safer?

  • Helmet use. New Jersey law currently requires that children under age 18 wear helmets. However, studies show that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of serious brain and head injuries in a bicycle accident – including an accident with a motor vehicle. 
  • Passing law. Efforts to pass a law in our state that would establish a minimum distance for safe passing of bicycles has not yet been passed. Many states have enacted regulations requiring a 3-foot minimum passing space.
  • Improving street and highway design. Under New Jersey’s “Complete Streets” 2009 policy, any new or renovated road must consider the needs of all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians. 
  • Driver awareness. Motor vehicle drivers must share the road with bicyclists – it’s the law. Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as cars and other large vehicles. Give bikes plenty of room when passing and watch carefully for bicyclists at intersections.

Learn more about safe biking in New Jersey at the Department of Transportation’s Bicycle Map and Resource Guide.

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