Bicycle Laws in Wisconsin and Safe Bike Riding Practices

The state of Wisconsin has several laws in place that regulate the use of bicycles. The laws are intended to instill safe behaviors in cyclists, protecting all drivers and passengers on the road.

Ride in Bike Lanes, Shoulders, and Sidewalks

There are bike lanes available in some of Wisconsin’s cities. No vehicle other than a bicycle is permitted to use these lanes, so bicyclists can ride safely. In some areas, riding a bike on the shoulder of the road is permitted in the absence of a bike lane. Biking on the sidewalk is regulated by local laws — check the rules of your city or county to see if you are permitted to ride your bike on the sidewalk.

Be Considerate of Other Drivers

When a bike lane is not provided, or driving on the shoulder is prohibited, bicycles should always drive on the right side of the road. An exception to this rule is in situations where a bike is turning left. When turning, cyclists should use hand signals to warn other drivers. On one-way streets, bicyclists are permitted to drive on either side of the road. Two bicycles can ride next to each other in one lane as long as other drivers are not affected. The goal is to always be moving in the same direction as the rest of the traffic, and to remain considerate of the drivers around you.

Proceed with Caution at Red Lights

As in any vehicle, bicyclists are required to stop at all red lights and stop signs. However, bikes can drive through red lights if the light is activated by the detection of a vehicle. These red lights may not be able to detect a vehicle as small as a bike. In these cases, bicycle riders can pass the red light after waiting for 45 seconds and ensuring they can drive through safely.

Enhance Visibility When Biking at Night

If you plan on riding at night, your bicycle must be properly equipped to do so. At minimum, your bike should have a white light on the front and a red light on the back. Additional reflectors, and reflective or light-colored clothing, will add to your visibility and safety.

Electric Bicycles

The use of electric bicycles is becoming more widespread, as many transportation companies have begun offering on-demand E-bikes through apps. Electric bike riders must follow the same rules as all cyclists, but must have a driver’s license to ride. Like all bikes, e-bikes can be ridden on the sidewalk, but only if the electric assistance is off. On a sidewalk, an electric bike must be operated by pedaling alone.

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