Concerned about the safety of children on Zion Road

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To the editor:
I am writing this letter because I am greatly concerned about the safety of children walking, biking, and skateboarding on Zion Road in Northfield on their way to the Northfield Community School each weekday morning and afternoon.

There is not a day that goes by that there are not speeding cars driving down the road, very close to the children who are on their way to school. The posted speed limit on Zion Road is 35 mph; however, it is extremely rare to see a vehicle traveling even close to that speed.

I am particularly concerned with the children who are on bikes and skateboards. I have seen the bikers ‘jump’ over the curbs and go into the roadway, and the skate boarders are particularly careless. While I realize that this is their method of transportation to get to school each day, I believe that they should be aware of rules and regulations of the road.

I have seen children in the middle of Zion Road skateboarding and totally unaware of their dangerous situation. All that needs to happen is for an automobile/truck driver to be speeding or inattentive and all of a sudden, a child bikes or skateboards into the actual lane of the car.  

As a parent, I cannot see letting my child bike or skateboard down a terribly busy county road such as Zion Road. However, if this is their only mode of transportation, they should be taught by their parents what the rules of the road are, and adhere to them.

The website states numerous rules for bicycling (including the helmet law); listed below are only two of them:

39:4-12 Says bicyclists should not drive the bicycle with feet removed from the pedals or with both hands removed from the handlebars, nor practice any trick or fancy driving in a street. Limit passengers to only the number the bicycle is designed and equipped to carry (the number of seats it has).

39:4-14.2, 39:4-10.11 Says every person riding a bicycle on a roadway shall ride as near to the right roadside as practicable exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.

A bicyclist may move left to:

1. To make a left turn from a left turn lane or pocket;

2. To avoid debris, drains, or other hazardous conditions on the right;

3. To pass a slower moving vehicle;

4. To occupy any available lane when traveling at the same speed as other traffic;

5. To travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded, but otherwise ride in single file. Every person riding a bicycle shall ride in the same direction as vehicular traffic.

In New Jersey, the law states a bicyclist must obey all state and local automobile driving laws. A parent may be held responsible for the child’s violation of any traffic law.

My hope is that parents will talk to their children about this very important safety issue in order to avoid a tragedy; and that the Northfield Police Department will be more vigilant is stopping the speeders between Oak Avenue and Mill Road on Zion Road.

Susan Shaw


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