METUCHEN – With the support of the proposed “New Jersey Safe Passing Bill,” borough officials are making sure resident Oscar Zanoni did not die in vain.
Members of the New Jersey Legislature have prepared The New Jersey Safe Passing Bill for consideration, which will further promote pedestrian, bicycle and scooter safety throughout the state, requiring certain actions by motor vehicle operators when overtaking or passing pedestrians, bicycles, or scooters.
The Borough Council unanimously approved a resolution in support of the bill at a meeting on Feb. 8, urging passage in the New Jersey Senate and Assembly.
“This is sort of a personal goal of mine to try to make something happen,” Councilman Jason Delia said, adding the bill was something that came up after the loss of Zanoni on Jan. 3, 2020.
Zanoni was riding an electric bicycle on Route 27 south near Vineyard Road in Edison when he was fatally struck by a tractor trailer. He was 44.
Delia said the proposed bill was written and endorsed by state Sen. Patrick Diegnan (D-18).
The borough believes the proposed bill meets an urgent need due to the increased use of borough roadways by pedestrians, runners, bicyclists, and scooters as well as an increase in severe injuries and fatalities on roadways throughout New Jersey.
“It’s great to have something come out of his honor and memory,” Mayor Jonathan Busch said. “He was a great guy. It’s been over a year since we lost him, but let’s make sure his death wasn’t in vain.”
Forty-two states have enacted some form of a safe passing law, however, none of which are as comprehensive as the proposed New Jersey Safe Passing Bill. The proposed bill’s 4-foot distance requirement for passing will not only provide for safer roadways, but also an educational opportunity for changing motorist perceptions from “squeezing by” to a specific standard as a “safe margin” which can also be measured with current technology.
The borough also believes that the proposed bill will protect a broad range of vulnerable road users, including those growing in numbers – scooters and e-bikes – and would
fill a gap in New Jersey’s current safe passing laws, which have requirements for drivers passing other cars, emergency responders and even for horses and horseback riders, but not for people riding bicycles, walking, running and/or scooting.
On Jan. 3, Zanoni’s family and friends lit up the outside of Metuchen Borough Hall with his favorite color of red in his honor. Additionally, the folks at Vision Zero New Jersey Alliance left a memorial bike in front of Borough Hall as a reminder of the disproportionate number of pedestrians who are struck by vehicles every day.