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Drivers and cyclist can both minimize risk on the road.

Over recent years, cycling has become more popular than ever. For many, bikes have become the preferred method of transportation whether it be for their daily commute, running errands, or simply getting some exercise. As the number of riders on the road increases, it is important for drivers and cyclists alike to know Wisconsin law regarding bikes and their operation so we can all minimize the risks for every person on the road.

What are the most important Wisconsin biking rules?

There are many Wisconsin biking rules, but probably the most important one to remember for drivers and cyclists alike is that bike are legally considered vehicles and should be treated as such. This means cyclists are required to obey the same traffic laws and regulations as the drivers of cars and trucks. Because of this, all parties should be sure to provide others with enough space for them to safely operate. One of the single best things anyone on the road can do to minimize risk for themselves and others is to be as predictable in your actions as possible. This will allow other individuals on the road to act responsibly and quickly should any adverse circumstances arise.

Tips for cyclists

While cyclists may have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of other vehicles, cyclists are generally less visible to drivers than other large vehicles like cars and trucks. Because of this, it is generally in your best interest to be as noticeable as possible. Easy ways to do this include wearing brightly colored, reflective clothing and/or installing lights and reflectors on your bike. Lights become increasingly more important once you begin riding at night, which is very common for commuters.

You should also be as spatially aware as possible. Always try to maintain 3 feet between yourself and the curb and be aware of parked cars. Sometimes drivers will open their car doors to exit their vehicles without checking to see if there is a cyclist in the oncoming lane. When sharing lanes with other vehicles, keep in mind where blind spots may be; drivers cannot avoid you if they cannot see you.

Tips for drivers

Driving around cyclist can be nerve-wracking, especially if you do not have a lot of experience doing it. The law states that drivers must keep at least 3 feet between their vehicles and cyclists. Because cyclists can be so much smaller than the average car on the road, it is helpful to be aware of the presence of bike lanes on roads. When in doubt, double check before making turns, merging lanes, and opening doors. Giving cyclists more space than you think is necessary is very rarely a bad idea.

In addition to regularly providing cyclists with adequate space, remember that they have significantly less protection from the elements (wind, rain, snow, etc.) and from debris on roads. Providing cyclists with enough space to maneuver will make things easier for everyone.

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Fitzpatrick, Skemp & Associates, LLC
123 7th St S
La Crosse, WI 54601

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