Tuesday, March 08, 2022: Below is much ado about stuff you really don’t want to read ...

Coyotes might not be the only thing devouring feral cats -- There are always those dreaded land groupers. 

Tuesday, March 08, 2022: Below is much ado about stuff you really don’t want to read – but better if you know what’s good for you as a motorist.

Below: A nice tern shot to calm you before reading on.  

SPEAKING OF DRIVING: We know all too well about the menacing rule-of-the-road regarding stopping for crossing pedestrians. Failing to properly give way has resulted in many costly tickets … and even license revocations. I get many furious calls about those. Well, the Pedestrian Crossing Law has seemingly been one-upped via something called the New Jersey’s Safe Passing Law (NJSPL) (A5570/S2208).

Hold your hats and get ready to hit the brakes – or else, amigo.

The new NJSP Law, already in place, demands that motorists must essentially doubly yield to pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders, runners – any road-top action that pits human bodies against heavy metal vehicles.

NOTE: I’m not sure where the new motorized bikes and skateboards fit in, though I’m betting they get the benefit of the law, as right they should when considering it’s still a case of soft bodies going up against high-horsepower heavy metal.

This should go without saying but I must: Island drivers had better take this new law as serious as sin. It's here and lurking. 

The greatest local manifestation of the law is the requirement that a motorist MUST move over an entire lane – if one is readily available – when approaching a cyclist, runner, skater … anyone in the road, or on the shoulder. Yes, an entire lane worth of leeway must be given on the multilane Boulevard. If a lane is not available, the law clearly states a driver must then slow down to 25 MPH ... and be prepared to stop on a dime if things get too tight.

I see big headaches -- and hear brakes screeching -- as Boulevard vehicles in the right lane see bikers or the likes up ahead and quickly hit the brakes.

Keep in mind that rear-ending someone quickly slowing up ahead is almost always the fault of the trailing driver since the law requires maintaining a safe braking distance, i.e., nobody will be happy with the outcome, especially if the struck vehicle is then pushed into cyclist or the likes. I’m betting bicyclists will be the main evoker of slowdowns and stops.    

As I read it, it will be illegal to drive above 25 mph when passing any cyclist, runner, walker, skater, etc., who is using the same lane you’re driving. That carries over to a single-lane roadway.

When driving single-lane roads like Central, Barnegat, and Ocean, a “four-foot safety zone” must be afforded the aforementioned co-users of the roadway. If such a move-over safety zone is not available, possibly due to oncoming traffic, it's another case whereby a driver must then slow down to no faster than 25 mph -- and be highly prepared to fully stop if a safe passing is at all in question.

Yes, you’re reading me right – and I’m right as rain. The new law is all too real -- with a very short learning curve being offered. Pity law organizations that must somehow enforce this. 

To make yet another legal point, heaven forbid you even clip someone in your lane. You would not only face typical legal ramifications but could also be seen as violating the Safe Passing Law, with steep fines -- and points stacked on your record.

I’ll be trying to get insights into the degree our police officers will enforce this law. But even without such specifics in hand, I already know police have no choice but to enforce the law -- or risk appearing negligent if, heaven forbid, a nasty accident takes place that might be construed as a lack of proper enforcement. Talk about being stuck between a jetty rock and an even harder place.

Rationale: Last year saw the highest fatality count in 30 years for pedestrians, cyclists, runners, et al. Pedestrian deaths were up 24%. Cyclist fatalities increased by 28%.

“This law gives us the opportunity to build awareness and prioritize safety first, making our roads safer for everyone, especially vulnerable road users,” said Debra Kagan, executive director of the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition. “The pandemic led to a surge of car and truck traffic on our roads along with increased speeding.”

Final dismal thought: Bicyclists, quite a few already self-righteous menaces on wheels, will have the absolute run of the road this summer.

Second final thought: Folks driving the left lane could be as much as under attack as drivers trying to obey the law swing into their passing lane.

(See full law explanation at bottom of this blog ...)

UGLY ROAD AHEAD: Just a word of to the motoring wise: The road off the Island is messed up to hell and back; more so than ever. Just slow the hell down! I see so many drivers whipping around the last vestiges of “the circle” despite warning barrels screaming out that there’s a ravaged road ahead – not to mention narrower lanes and an overall confusing look. What’s more, there a series of line changes on the Boulevard in the vicinity of the 7-11 plaza.

Of massive import is the new “STOP” sign for Boulevard traffic approaching Eighth Street (Causeway) from the north, at Oscar Huber.  

In the past, there had been a perpetually ignored “YIELD” sign there. For decades, it was maddening and mindboggling how many drivers broke the law by reading the “YIELD” sign as a “MERGE” sign.  

For those who lucked out on their driver’s exam, a “YIELD” sign legally becomes a “STOP” sign in the presence of oncoming (in this case, outgoing) traffic. You MUST yield the right-of-way – not blindly pull out in front of it.

I truly can’t count how many times I would have creamed a vehicle that failed to yield there, with the driver more often than not obvious to the fact they were totally in the wrong – and almost had their precious BWN French kissed by a crappy Chevy pickup. Shows I’m a nice guy since the driver would have been ordered to cover the cost of my fixes, which would have been a sure improvement over what I had prior to their dumbass move.

Just to make it doubly clear: The former “YIELD” sign at Oscar Huber has now been replaced by a “STOP” sign – though I guarantee it will have no impact on most of the knucklehead drivers who would blow through the old sign. The fines and points for blowing through either sign is the same, as is the fault.

PICKLEBALL: I’m very happy over pickleball-playing folks getting the old M&M Clam Bar location for their sport. I don’t play but know this is a rare case of a former commercial lot NOT going the way of insta-homes.

Pondering the real-world value of that real estate, had it gone residential … mindboggling. But the potential per-home value shows why the Island keeps sacrificing attractions – business and pleasure – for the sake of high-ticket homes. Such trade-outs come at the expense of the Island’s overall appeal. Visitors need somewhere to spend their money … and get in fun time. Virtually every shore town knows the beach alone is not enough.  

I think a mutually acceptable halfway can be met with the store below/apartments above builds, though that can throw nearby parking into fits. Nonetheless, it allows for a site to offer some attraction for one and all, at least down below.  

Local Residents Dedicated to Keeping Pickleball Alive in Beach Haven - USA Pickleball

MANN OVERBOARD: By no stretch am I a great thinker. However, I am a frequent thinker, which, if you think about it, greatly enhances my chances of stumbling onto a great thought. Of course, trying to cherry pick a great thought among the many less-so thoughts takes a great thinker. Get it wrong and there is hell to pay. I have found that out the hard way, marked by, “I thought it was a good idea, your honor.”

RUNDOWN: Word is rattling around about bayside striped bass being taken at a fair clip, including keeper-sized models. Such keeperage is a bit early but aligns with what could be a growing population of nearby overwintering bass.

It’s growingly likely that a rising number of smaller stripers stay all winter in the Barnegat Bay vicinity. Just as likely, bass that have drifted just off the beachline for a winter hiatus, more readily move into the bay with the longer days, opportunistically grabbing bottom-emerging crabs, which often get swept up by currents -- carried right into the awaiting mouths of bass, especially in the vicinity of the bridges.

It’s probably a tad too early to use artificials for bay bass, though it’s worth doing a few test jig-abouts. Tiny white grub tails might work.

A drastic decline in the winter flounder biomass has made this fishery a ghost of what it once was – a wildly popular target, offering a spring breakout for antsy anglers. Still, the extant population of blackbacks is limbering up after mudding down for a multi-month bay sleepover.

As a seafood fan, I need to thoroughly rebuff a nonsensical wives’ tale that winter flounder, just out of bed, have a slight muddy taste. Not only is this nonsense, as any taste bud can tell, but the slightly off white – sometimes blueish -- meat of this flatfish is better/sweeter than fluke.

That said, any flavor misinterpretation could come from these small flounder being filleted onboard vessels hosting bay mud -- and also gunk from chum buckets. Back in the day, things were even muddier onboard, when toilet plungers were tied to the ends of bamboo poles and used to plunger the bottom, stirring up buried worms and crustaceans, which acted as chum.  

White perching is starting to show its non-stripes, the species being an unstriped kissin’ cousin of striped bass. It is still weeks from prime Mill Creek perching.

This species is baffling since it faces very little fishing pressure but never seems to go anywhere, in terms of biomass. Something perennially holds it at status quo, most likely some natural predation, though many of its prime spawning areas are heavily impacted by runoff, especially over Beach Haven West and Forked River ways.

Best perch bait: Common Grass Shrimp - Barnegat Bay Partnership

Here's the more detailed version of the Safe Passing law:   

NEW NJ SAFE PASSING LAW: Protecting All Who Share the Roads 

Law sets guidelines to prevent the near misses, injuries and deaths suffered by

 the most vulnerable road users after NJ set a traffic fatality record in 2021



TRENTON, NJ, March 1, 2022––Starting today, the NJ Safe Passing Law (NJSPL) (A5570/S2208) goes into effect. The new law provides clear rules of the road for all motorists about when and how to pass people sharing the road on foot, on bicycles, on scooters, wheelchairs or in other legally permitted ways to travel other than a motor vehicle. 

The bipartisan bill, sponsored and cosponsored by 16 Senators and Assembly members, was approved 102-1 by the NJ Legislature last June, signed by Governor Phil Murphy in August, and is set to take effect on March 1, 2022. 

The Safe Passing Law requires drivers to use “due caution” whenever they see vulnerable people on the road. The law states that: 

  1. Drivers must follow all current no-passing, no speeding laws AND move over a lane if there’s one to move into.
  2. On a single-lane road, drivers must allow at least a 4-foot safety zone when they pass.
  3. If 4 feet is not possible on a section of road, drivers must slow to 25mph and be prepared to stop until they can pass safely without endangering those sharing the road. 

2021 was the deadliest year on New Jersey’s roads in 14 years for drivers, and the deadliest in 30 years for the most vulnerable road users, people walking, cycling, and rolling. The pandemic led to a surge of car and truck traffic on our roads along with increased speeding. COVID also led to more people using the roads on foot or on wheels, by necessity or choice. ”Last year, 704 people were killed on New Jersey’s roads, the highest number since 2007. Driver and passenger fatalities are up 18%, while pedestrian fatalities are up 24%, and cyclist fatalities are up 28%.

The NJ Safe Passing Law is the strongest safe passing law in the country and with the increase in road fatalities and serious injuries across the state it comes at a critical time,” said Debra Kagan, Executive Director of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition.  This law gives us the opportunity to build awareness and prioritize safety first, making our roads safer for everyone, especially vulnerable road users.” 

“The New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, with our partners in advocacy throughout the state, will now launch a major public awareness campaign in May,” said Jim Hunt, Safe Passing Law Campaign Leader for the NJ Bike and Walk Coalition. “We believe our efforts will underscore the importance of all the state’s move over laws.” 

“This legislation was long overdue. Last year alone 246 of our vulnerable road users, pedestrians and bicyclists, died on NJ roadways,” said Sangetta Badlani, Founder of Nikhil Badlani Foundation and Families for Safe Streets NJ. ”These are lives that we can save by raising awareness and enforcement of this law. This law prioritizes safety and is a step towards ending the heartbreak that so many families suffer from a loss of a loved one in a preventable crash.” 

This law is aimed at protecting pedestrians and bicyclists from the most aggressive drivers,” said John Boyle Research Director for the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. “I’ve had close calls with drivers who were passing me carelessly or recklessly, sometimes intentionally without consequence.” 

“New Jersey’s Safe Passing law, the most comprehensive in the nation, is the result of over a decade of hard work by advocates. We are grateful for the bill sponsors and Governor Murphy for acknowledging the importance of the protections provided by this law which go into effect March 1. We look forward to continuing to work with leaders in Trenton to make our streets safer for all road users in our state, especially those who are most vulnerable.” – Janna Chernetz, Deputy Director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign

  • Dave Nederostek

    "I’m all for avoiding hitting bicyclists, but how do you go blaming a virus for speeding ? She might want to retract that ridiculous statement.