It’s getting to be pretty nice outside, and that means that you will start seeing a lot more cyclists on the road. Perhaps, you are one of those cyclists. I happen to be one of those commuter cyclists, and sometimes, when I am riding my bike on my way somewhere, I have had motorists shout at me to get on the sidewalk or generally to get off of the road. These angry motorists are typically wrong about the law regarding bicycles in Wisconsin, and this blog is inspired by those folks to help you understand the law in Wisconsin about bicycles, how to follow it, and what happens when you are injured while riding a bicycle..
The law in Wisconsin regards a bicycle as a vehicle. (Click here for a nice summary of relevant bicycle laws in Wisconsin, which I will highlight in this post.) This means that the bicycle operator has both the rights and responsibilities of any other vehicle on a road with a few certain exceptions. In fact, in some municipalities, ordinances restrict cyclists from being on sidewalks (this may seem counter-intuitive, but the reason for prohibiting cycling on sidewalks is because motorists will not notice cyclists on the sidewalk when each needs to pass through crosswalks.)
If you are cycling on the road, you should be as far right as is practicable on the road. Remember to look out for parked cars and opening doors on the side of the road. On a highway, you are permitted to cycle on the shoulder unless a local ordinance prohibits it. On one-way roads, you can cycle on either the far left or far right of the road. Also, if you are cycling, you should signal your turns by extending your left arm out for a left turn, and up for a right turn. Finally, while cycling at night, you must have a white front light and a red rear reflector (a rear light is also advisable but not required by law.)
If you are a motorist, you should respect the bicycle with distance as if it were a motor vehicle. Share the road with bicyclists. When you pass a cyclist, you must give the cyclist at least three feet of space between your vehicle and the bike. If you are involved in a collision with a bicycle, and personal injuries or property damage over $1,000 is suffered, you are required by law to report it to law enforcement.
If you or someone you love is involved in a bicycle accident, whether with a motorist, as a result of a pothole, or any other cause, contact an attorney to evaluate the case. I’ve attached a contact form below if you have questions:
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