Safe Routes Scoop

10 Questions with
Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer

 

New Jersey’s bicycle and pedestrian advocates have found a powerful ally in New Jersey Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer. She has represented Newark in the Assembly since 2008, and was selected to be a Deputy Speaker for the New Jersey General Assembly in January 2010. She is Vice-Chair of the Assembly Finance Insurance and Banking Committee and a member of the Law and Public Safety Committee. She is an avid cyclist and bicycling advocate who speaks passionately of the need for safe passing legislation for cyclists and other vulnerable road users. She has pledged her support for a three-foot passing bill which she and her Assembly colleagues have been pushing towards legislation. A practicing lawyer, having argued before the US Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, she has her own firm and serves as prosecutor for the Township of West Orange, New Jersey.

 

Q1: You have been such a tremendous advocate in New Jersey for bicycling and pedestrian issues. How did you first become interested in pedestrian and bicycle issues, both personally and as a state legislator? For Spencer, the initial draw to bicycling was physical fitness; “I became interested personally as an alternative to running.” While she found bicycling to be great exercise, it would take an unfortunate accident that spurred her evolution from recreational cyclist

to bicycle and pedestrian safety advocate. According to Spenser, “After I was struck by a car in 2007 during my first campaign for assembly, I began to look into ways to make cycling safer.”

 

Q2: How have pedestrian and bicycle safety issues influenced your agenda as an Assemblywoman? As an Assemblywoman, Spencer sees it as her job to look out for the people of New Jersey and to try to make our little piece of the world a better place. Bicycle safety issues influence her agenda because “it just makes sense.” From an environmental perspective, encouraging bicycling is also an excellent way to help change New Jersey for the better. If more people cycle, we can ease congestion, reduce noise pollution, clean the air by cutting exhaust emissions, and improve our health. According to Spencer, supporting bicycle safety issues is important because “if we are going to encourage activities geared toward protecting our earth, then we should at least make them safe.”

 

Q3: Can you tell us about some of the bills you have sponsored or co-sponsored related to biking and walking and their current status? For example, A2674, which designates walking as NJ’s State Exercise and A1020, which requires motorists to maintain a minimum three foot safety distance when overtaking/passing bicycles. According to Spencer, “New Jersey is

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