Bike Safety in Rutherford
Updated: Aug 16, 2019
By Jennifer Ersalesi
During the summer, community members of all ages often enjoy riding their bicycles throughout town. Bike riding is a fun, recreational, healthy activity and also a mode of transportation for some. Recently, This is Rutherford, spoke with Officer Anthony Bachmann, Traffic and Crash Reconstruction Expert and Sergeant Julie Ann Ziegler regarding bike safety and town rules and ordinances regarding bicycle riding.
TIR: First and foremost, let’s talk about bike safety. What are some of the most important precautions bicyclists, as well as skateboard and scooter riders and those using roller skates, should take?
Anthony Bachmann: Wearing a helmet prevents many injuries and we want to see cyclists wearing helmets while riding. According to the NJ State Department of Transportation, ”In New Jersey, anyone under 17 years of age that rides a bicycle or is a passenger on a bicycle, or is towed as a passenger by a bicycle must wear a safety helmet.” This is a state law.
Julie Ann Ziegler: We received a very generous donation of 50+ BELL Bicycle Helmets with Reflectors from Hackensack Meridian Health at Hackensack University Medical Center for ages 3+ to adult. At National Night Out on August 6th, various helmets (per specific age range) were distributed. That table was hosted by Rutherford trained volunteers, Jaeli and Aliyah Torres. Their mother is Debbie Espinosa-Torres, RN at the Emergency Trauma Department at Hackensack UMC and former volunteer of the Rutherford Volunteer First-Aid Ambulance Corp. Giving back and helping their community is something they have learned is vital and they enjoy doing it. This is their second year supporting Rutherford’s National Night Out.
AB: There should only be one cyclist on a bike (no friends riding on the pegs) and bicycles should not be hitched onto the back of vehicles.
Bicycles that are used at nighttime need to be equipped with a white headlamp as well as a red rear lamp. Reflectors are not enough at nighttime, therefore lights are needed and must be visible up to 500 feet.
JAZ: All bicycles must also be equipped with a bell that can be heard at least 100 feet away. This cannot be a siren or whistle though. Use hand signals and follow the rules of the road. Be predictable by making sure you ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between cars. Wear bright colors and use lights, especially when riding at night and in the morning. Reflectors on your clothes and bike will help you be seen.
AB: Most importantly, bicyclists, scooter and skateboard riders, as well as those using roller skates should act like a motor vehicle. If riders act like a motor vehicle then drivers will be more likely to observe the rider. For example, on Orient Way, a vehicle would expect vehicles to be traveling on the right hand side of the road, traveling in the direction of traffic. If you travel on the left hand side of the roadway, against the flow of traffic, drivers will not notice you as easily because they have been trained to know there should not be anyone there. Just think about how a car crosses an intersection. They look left, right, left. If you are on the correct side of the roadway, the driver would have looked left twice and more likely would have seen you, as opposed to looking right only once and may have missed you if you are on the wrong side of the roadway.
TIR: There often seems to be some confusion as to where cyclists can actually ride their bicycles. Can you help us understand the town ordinance regarding this?
AB: Within Rutherford, you cannot ride scooters, bicycles, roller skates, and/or skateboards upon any sidewalk within commercial zone districts, or on any municipal parking facility, or any public plaza (ex: Williams Center Plaza).
TIR: When someone is riding a scooter, skateboard, bicycle or using roller skates, they must abide by the rules of the road. In order to keep the riders safe and traffic flowing smoothly throughout town, what should riders know?
AB: All riders must ride in a single file to the right most part of the roadway so they do not impede the flow of traffic. Riders must ride as if they were a motor vehicle (keep right, no riding in the wrong direction, obey stop signs, etc). According to the Borough Ordinance, “Every person riding or operating a bicycle shall be required to dismount and walk his or her bicycle across heavily traveled streets.” Bicyclists should not drive the bicycle with feet removed from the pedals, or with both hands removed from the handlebars. Bicyclists should not try any tricks while driving on a street.
TIR: Owning a bicycle also means keeping your actual bicycle safe as well. Bicycles are stolen when they are not locked up and are left in easily accessible areas. However, there is a way to register bicycles through the Rutherford Police Department to make recovery of these bicycles easier. Can you tell us more about that?
JAZ: Bicycles are technically still able to be registered at our Records Bureau. It is something that people haven’t done in a few years. I have no reason as to why. However, we have promoted this form, which enables individuals to register bicycles for free. It allows you to create a free account, upload photos and input your serial number. This would allow any bicycle to be checked by any law enforcement agency. Most people who report a bicycle stolen have no idea of its serial number making it nearly impossible to reunite them with their property.
TIR: The Rutherford Police Department has found ways to alert the community about emergency situations, safety tips, as well as other important information, such as road closures in a few different ways. What are some ways Rutherford residents can stay informed?
JAZ: The Rutherford Police Department has a Facebook page and a Twitter account that we update often. Residents can also sign up for Nixle alerts via the Borough Website.