By Bob Mionske
Can I be ticketed for speeding on my bicycle?
Milwaukee, WIDear Tom,
It is a good question and the short answer is, yes.Since you signed off from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and traffic violationsare regulated by municipal law we’ll start off by looking at the Milwaukeecity ordinances. Chapter 102-1 says that the city of Milwaukee adoptsall Wisconsin statutes defining and describing regulations with respectto vehicles and traffic (Chapter 103-1 which regulates bicyclesalso adopts Wisconsin statutes).Since Milwaukee’s municipal code directs us to follow the Wisconsinstatutes, the next step is to determine whether or not Wisconsin’s vehicularstatutes apply to bicycles. According to Wis. Stat. § 340.01 bicyclesare considered “vehicles” on Wisconsin roadways, in addition Wis. Stat.§ 346.02(4) says that the rules of the road apply to persons ridingbicycles. It defines a bicycle as a “vehicle propelled by the feet actingupon pedals and having wheels any two of which are not less than 14 inchesin diameter.”Therefore, bicyclists must obey the rules of the road like any othervehicle and must also be treated as equal users by all other vehicles too.Since a bicycle is a vehicle and is legally required to follow all trafficlaws, they must stop at all traffic lights and obey all speed limits. Asa side note, bicyclists have the right to travel on all roadways like anyother vehicle (except for marked roads that are prohibited for bicycles– which are a limited number of limited-access high-speed highways). Infact, bicyclists may travel in the center of the right lane, even if thereis space in the shoulder. So for those of you who are faster, even if there’sspace in the shoulder, you are not required to use it. Just remember notto fall too far behind because “any person operating a bicycle…upon a roadwayat less than the normal speed of traffic [should] ride as close as practicableto the right-hand edge or curb of the…roadway.”As for actual speed limits to abide by, Wis. Stat. § 346.57(2)says you must drive within what’s called a “reasonable and prudent” limit.This means you must obey the posted speed limit in addition to travelingno faster than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions (of fog,rain, ice, snow and also heavy traffic congestion). Therefore you haveto reduce your speed to the point where you’re able to control your bicycleand avoid colliding with any object, person or vehicle (or even anotherfellow bicyclist). Generally speaking, every cyclist should ride at a safeand appropriate speed when approaching and crossing an intersection orrailroad grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, whenapproaching a hillcrest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway,and when nearing highway construction or maintenance workers or other pedestrians.Interestingly, Milwaukee has a specific law against racing bicycles.Chapter 102-8(4) says that “no person operating a bicycle upon apublic highway shall participate in any race, or speed, or endurance contestwith any other vehicle.”Of course, races like Superweek have been obtaining permits, which allowfor racing of bicycles on Milwaukee’s streets every summer for the last35 years!
(Research and drafting assistance provided by Katherine Chung-lawstudent- Willamette University School of Law)
Now read the fine print:
Bob Mionske is a former competitive cyclist who representedthe U.S. at the 1988 Olympic games (where he finished fourth in the roadrace), the 1992 Olympics, as well as winning the 1990 national championshiproad race.After retiring from racing in 1993, he coached theSaturn Professional Cycling team for one year before heading off to lawschool. Mionske’s practice is now split between personal-injury work, representing professional athletes as an agent and other legal issues facing endurance athletes (traffic violations, contract, criminal charges, intellectual property, etc).If you have a cycling-related legal question, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.orgBob will answer as many of these questions privately as he can. He willalso select a few questions each week to answer in this column. Generalbicycle-accident advice can be found at www.bicyclelaw.com.Important notice:
The information provided in the “Legally speaking”column is not legal advice. The information provided on this publicweb site is provided solely for the general interest of the visitors tothis web site. The information contained in the column applies to generalprinciples of American jurisprudence and may not reflect current legaldevelopments or statutory changes in the various jurisdictions and thereforeshould not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice. Understand thatreading the information contained in this column does not mean youhave established an attorney-client relationship with attorney Bob Mionske.Readers of this column should not act upon any information contained inthe web site without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.