While the number of vehicle, pedestrian and motorcycle deaths decreased in 2015 to a record low of 554 fatalities, the number of cyclist deaths have actually increased. According to New Jersey State police records, the number of people who died while bicycling increased to 64 percent. Unfortunately, this is the highest number of cyclist deaths New Jersey has seen since 2008.
In the past, efforts have been made by both New Jersey and New York to improve overall road fatalities, with particular interest in cyclists. However, New Jersey has not seen success in these efforts. The state is possibly too densely populated, and according to the executive director of the New Jersey Bicycle and Walking Coalition, more residents are walking and cycling than ever before.
What is the Safe Passing Bill?
The state legislature recently met to discuss a bill that focuses on preventable accidents, such as the 143 New Jersey residents who were killed riding their bicycles last year. While the Safe Passing bill gained some initial traction at the legislative session, it was ultimately stalled at the Senate Transportation Committee.
Had the Safe Passing bill been approved, vehicle drivers would have been required to maintain a “safe and reasonable distance” of at least four feet when passing a pedestrian or cyclist on the road. New Jersey is still the only state in the region without any pedestrian or cyclist road protections. That said, it should not be a surprise that the number of cyclist deaths is so high.
Law Makers Are Failing to Protect NJ Cyclists
Other states, such as New York, Washington and even cities in Texas have adopted an initiative called Vision Zero, which has seen much success in lowering the number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths by more than 30 percent. New York City in particular took steps outlined by Vision Zero principles, such as increasing the fines on speeding tickets, installing more traffic cameras, closing parks on weekdays and redesigning major infrastructures to protect pedestrians and cyclists. It seems New Jersey should take a leaf out of New York City’s book and take better steps towards protecting the state’s cyclists.