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Keeping bicyclists safe on the roadways

You can expect more people to be on their bicycles in Door and Kewaunee counties as the weather warms up and summer approaches.  The Wisconsin State Patrol and local law enforcement want you to know the road rules regarding bikes and vehicles on the streets.  Bicycles are considered vehicles on the road and have the same rights and obey the same laws as drivers of cars and trucks.  Sturgeon Bay Assistant Police Chief Dan Brinkman says motorists should always slow down and be vigilant when driving near bikes of all sizes.



On average, bicycles are involved in over 700 crashes yearly in Wisconsin.  Last year, seven bicyclists were killed on roadways, and another 699 were hurt, according to data from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.  You can find safety tips and state laws about bicyclist and driver responsibilities below.



Driver responsibilities

If you see a bicyclist, slow down. The higher the vehicle speed, the higher the likelihood a bicyclist will be seriously injured or killed in the event of a crash.

Use caution. Bicycles have a smaller profile, so it is harder to judge their speed and distance.

Look twice for bicycles. Many crashes happen when drivers pull out from a stop sign, turn left or change lanes.

If parking along the street, always check the side mirrors and look back before opening doors. Opening a vehicle door into the path of a bicyclist can cause them to lose balance or flip over.

State law prohibits motor vehicles from driving in a bicycle lane, except to enter a driveway, merge into a bicycle lane before turning at an intersection, or enter or leave a parking space located adjacent to the bicycle lane. Bicycles have the right-of-way.

State law requires drivers to stay at least three feet away from a bicycle.


Bicyclist responsibilities

Wear protective gear, including a helmet.

Obey all traffic laws, signs and signals.

Be aware of your surroundings. Check behind you, especially when changing lanes.  Keep an eye on vehicles when approaching intersections. Watch for opening car doors.

Be visible. Stay out of blind spots and use extra caution near larger vehicles like buses and trucks.

State law requires bicyclists to use signals when turning or stopping. Signals may be given by a lamp or hand and arm.

Make it easier for drivers to see you. Wearing reflective and bright clothing. State law requires lights and reflectors during hours of darkness. The back of a bicycle must have reflective tape or a steady or flashing red light, and a white light is required on the front.


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