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New Jersey is a dangerous place for bicyclists.  Among the 50 states, New Jersey had the second-highest percentage of fatal motor vehicle accidents, 28.9 percent, that claimed the lives of pedestrians or bicyclists in 2012.  That percentage rose to 32.4 in 2014, according to the state police.  Bicycle deaths and injuries are most likely to occur in the months of July, August and September.

There has been significant concern about increases in bicyclist deaths over the past few years.  Many argue that the increase in bicyclist fatalities correlates with the country-wide increase in bicycling over the past ten years.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bicyclists on the roads should always travel in the same direction as traffic; obey all traffic signs, signals and lane markings; be predictable by riding in a straight line.

Other safety measures they recommend are to wear bright colors and have reflective clothing and lights while riding at night; stay focused and alert and never use electronic devices while riding or be impaired.  The most important bike safety gear is a helmet. Getting thrown from a bike to the pavement, or worse, out into the street, can be fatal.  Studies show that wearing a helmet can reduce head injuries by up to 85 percent.

Vehicle drivers also have to do their part by respecting designated bike lanes; allowing at least 3 feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist; yielding to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals such as bike crossing signs; being alert for cyclists when making turns; watching for cyclists when opening car doors on streets, and, of course, never driving distracted or impaired.

Summer is a great time for bike riding.  It is a healthy and fun activity for anyone.  But it’s important to take precautions before heading out, obey the rules of the road and simply use common sense.

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