New Jersey drivers who unsafely pass a pedestrian or cyclist can soon face a hefty fine, according to a new bill proposed today.
The legislation was sponsored by Assemblywomen L. Grace Spencer and Linda Stender to better protect New Jersey bicyclists and pedestrians, and was released Thursday from the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee.
“When you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle, you have an obligation to share the road with everyone else – including pedestrians and cyclists,” said Spencer (D-Essex), herself an avid cyclist. “Helping to clarify and codify that the rules of the road extend to folks who may not be behind the wheel of an automobile will help make everyone safer.”
Under the bill (a committee substitute for A-1577 and A-1600) a motorist overtaking a cyclist or pedestrian traveling in the same direction would be required to leave “a reasonable and safe distance” of at least four feet between the vehicle and the cyclist/pedestrian until they have been safely passed. Failure to do so would be punishable by fines of up to $500 per offense.
“It’s easy to forget that pedestrians and bikers have the same rights as cars and trucks when you’re whizzing by at 65 miles an hour,” said Stender (D-Union), the vice-chairwoman of the transportation panel. “Unfortunately it’s in that moment of forgetfulness that accidents occur. By clearly delineating the responsibilities of drivers with regard to pedestrians and cyclists, we can improve the safety of everyone on the road.”
The measure now heads to the Assembly Speaker, who decides if and when to post it for a floor vote. [TLS]