In this case it would appear that Mr. Batista was riding his bicycle heading east in the shoulder while passing backed up motor traffic in the travel lanes to his left. At the entrance to the CVS Pharmacy a driver heading east left a gap open so that Patrick McVeigh of Chatham, the driver of the vehicle involved in the crash who was heading west, could turn left and enter the CVS parking lot. As the vehicle driven by Mr. McVeigh crossed the path of Mr. Batista, Mr. Batista then crashed into the rear of Mr. McVeigh's vehicle.
The first curb cut on the right is likely site of the Batista crash. View Larger Map
This case brings up a number of problems with shoulder cycling in New Jersey that continue to put cyclists at risk of injury, as well as prosecution from the law. As reported by WalkBikeJersey earlier this year, The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled on a lawsuit that involved a cyclist tragically killed while traveling in the shoulder. That case had the court rule on the legality of shoulder cycling and the court declared:
Bicyclists do not have special privileges on a roadway’s shoulder. Indeed, a bicycle rider is directed to ride on the furthest right hand side of the roadway, not on the roadway’s shoulder. The Motor Vehicle Code does not designate the roadway’s shoulder as a bicycle lane.If one were to only consider the court's interpretation of Title 39 it would seem that Mr. Batista was in clear violation of the law. However a commenter on the Chatham Patch story notes that, just a half mile to the west of the assumed crash site Main Street, also known as NJ 124, has a marked bike lane in the town of Madison. 2008 Google Streetsview imagery would seem to confirm this. The commenter also notes that at the municipal boarder of Madison and Chatham Borough, which is the intersection of Division Ave/Brookdale Road and Main St, there are no MUTCD compliant "Bike Lane Ends" signs. This too is confirmed on Google Streetsview.
This "Bike Lane" symbol is located in the town of Madison and is less than 2500 feet from the likely crash site.
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Unfortunately for Mr. Batista, he likely assumed that either he was allowed by law to ride his bike in the roadway shoulder and/or that the shoulder was still a designated bicycle lane in the Borough of Chatham as it is in Madison. Also, the ambiguity of the signage and the roadway markings (the marked bike lanes in Madison are stripped more like shoulders and do not follow bike lane standards) and the lack of proper bike lane signage did not help clarify things for him.
The reality remains that shoulder cycling has been declared illegal and will remain so until this issue is addressed in the New Jersey Legislature. Still, where shoulders have been designated as bike lanes, all effort must be made to mark them properly in accordance with accepted national standards. It is simply not fair and even dangerous for cyclists to do it any other way. Riding a bicycle on New Jersey's roadways is difficult enough.