Indulge me for a moment on a subject I am quite passionate about, and what I think the solution should be.

Drivers around the Jersey Shore, especially during tourist season, pull out their hair over bicyclists sharing our already-crowded roadways.

Yet bicycle riders in our state, according to the law, should be treated as motor vehicle drivers. They are supposed to ride in the street, in the same direction as traffic, and cars must yield to them.

If this were any place other than the already-overcrowded state that we live in and if millions of cars didn't overtake our roads each summer, then maybe this law would make more sense.

Yet I still hear constantly about bike riders injured or killed on our roads.

Here's what I don't get:

Why is it that bike riders, who barely have any protection except for a (many times an ill-fitting) helmet are thrown to the wolves and forced to ride in our streets and have faith that the drivers on our roads will see them and avoid hitting them....when we have sidewalks that are BARELY ever used?

Sure, pedestrians need to be able to use the sidewalk, but why not have bike riders use the sidewalks and simply yield to pedestrians and walk their bikes around any pedestrians using the sidewalk?

This, to me, is a much better option than bike riders that can barely even ride the shoulders of our roads for fear of a parked car door opening and wiping them out, or hoping that a car isn't backing out of a parking space that doesn't see them. Or, the worst of the worst for both bike riders and drivers, is when bike riders are forced to ride in the middle of the same roads as cars drive on.

After all, rarely can bike riders get over 25 mph, and yet cars are forced to come to an almost complete standstill, holding up traffic sometimes for MILES because there is no safe way to pass many of these bike riders, yet those bike riders aren't given the option to use a perfectly empty, decent sidewalk?

As a mom of two boys who I have forbidden to ride bikes except on bike paths, I am quite frustrated. My son is 16 and would love to ride his bike to work on Ocean Ave. in Belmar, but I have seen the chaos on 18th Avenue, Main Street, Rt. 71, and Ocean Avenue in the summer and there is no way I would let him risk his life hoping against hope that he can safely navigate the streets around our town in the spring and summer.

Regardless of the fact that my son wears a helmet, and that he is no longer a little child, and despite him telling me that he is old enough to know how to look out for himself, I know ADULTS who have been KILLED riding bikes. There is no extra brain protection or skull protection in an adult or a teenager that can withstand getting hit by a car. Doesn't matter how old you are.

This law needs to change. Period.

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