Bill to Increase Pedestrian and Bike Safety Passes Assembly
JCI file photo Steve Gold
Assemblywoman Chaparro’s Bill to Increase Pedestrian and Bike Safety Passes Assembly
Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro’s bill (A-4165) aimed at educating new drivers on the correct ways to share the road with bicyclists and pedestrians passed the General Assembly on January 23 by a vote of 67-0-2.
“This bill was drafted after I noticed more and more residents in Hoboken and Jersey City using a bicycle through share programs or just buying one for personal use,” Chaparro said. “Given this change in the way that people travel, it is important to ensure that our driver’s education classes, tests, and manuals are updated to reflect the changing landscape of the roads. We need to work to eliminate fatalities and injuries of pedestrians and bicyclists in New Jersey, and by improving the education of new drivers, this bill is one way we can work toward that goal.”
The bill requires that the curriculum for approved driver’s education courses and informational brochures from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) include information concerning the importance of safely sharing the road with bicyclists, skaters, and pedestrians. The MVC would also include bicycle and pedestrian safety questions as part of the written examination required to obtain a permit and basic driver’s license. The legislation hopes to raise awareness to all drivers about sharing the road safely.
“With many riders in New Jersey dependent upon bicycles to meet all of their transportation needs, plus the tens of thousands who ride for fitness and recreation, educating drivers of the rules of the road for motorists and for bike riders becomes critical to reaching zero bike rider deaths and injuries,” said Cyndi Steiner, Executive Director of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition. “New Jersey has continued to be at the top of the list in the country for the percentage of road deaths that occur to bike riders and pedestrians. New York City, right next door, has been leading the country in Vision Zero, and New Jersey has yet to adopt such an approach. We will not begin to eliminate these senseless fatalities unless we educate drivers on the rules of the road.”
“Since 2009, New Jersey has been labeled a Pedestrian and Bicyclist ‘Focus’ state by the Federal Highway Administration due to its high rate of pedestrian and bicycle fatalities,” said Janna Chernetz, Director of New Jersey Policy at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “Early education is a key component in efforts to make roads safer for all users and to remove this label once and for all. This legislation also complements the efforts of the state, 8 counties and 133 municipalities that have adopted Complete Streets policies as they move to engineer roadways to safely accommodate all users.”
The bill is also sponsored by Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33), Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D-31), Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31), and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37). A-4165 is co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-32), Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-38), Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-26), and Assemblyman Tom Giblin (D-34).