Bicycle Season Safety

bike clip artThe snow season seems to have made way for spring at last, so everyone’s bikes are emerging. It’s important to ride safely, however, and to share the roads and sidewalks lawfully and politely.

The March 2015 newsletter from UW-Whitewater Police Services spells it out for all of us:


  • Bicycles are considered vehicles and should be operated in the roadway whenever possible.
  • When operating in the roadway you should always ride your bike in the same direction as the traffic.
  • DO NOT swerve in and out of parked cars.
  • When operating a bike in the roadway and a bike lane is not available, you should take the whole lane to operate your bike.
  • Bicycles are required to obey all the same traffic laws and road signs as a vehicle, and are required to stop at all stop signs.
  • Don’t forget to wear your helmet.
  • Have reflectors and lights on your bike if operating at dusk or dark.

When operating a bicycle always remember to signal your direction of travel so vehicles know what your intended direction is. (See illustrations in the newsletter, or from Hand signals provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which also provides additional related information, such as fitting a bike helmet.)


  • Remember bicycles need room to avoid debris and obstructions in the roadway.
  • Be observant and watch for the cyclists signals.
  • Change lanes when passing bicycles. DO NOT attempt to share a lane to pass a bike.

The newsletter also reminded us that “Long boards and skateboards are not allowed in the roadway.

More information is available from the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation web site, including specific guidance for “path/street crossings” and bicycle crash facts in section IV of Wisconsin Traffic Crash Facts. There’s also a special two-page item on Bicyclists (part of the Wisconsin Traffic Safety Facts series) that says, “In Wisconsin, in 2012, one bicyclist was injured or killed every 8.3 hours.” It also says both bicyclists and motor vehicles should allow three feet of clearance when getting around each other, and bicyclists traveling at speeds under the normal speed should be as close to the curb as possible. It is important to know the rules of the road, which are in Wisconsin Statutes. For example, “No pedestrian, bicyclist, or rider of an electric personal assistive mobility device shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk, run, or ride into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is difficult for the operator of the vehicle to yield.” is Wis. Stats. 346.24(2). Also see the City of Whitewater’s Municipal Code, Chapter 11.40 Bicycles.

Want to learn even more? Ask a librarian for assistance.

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About Barbara

I am a Reference & Instruction librarian, head of that department in Andersen Library, an associate professor, and a member of the General Education Review Committee and Faculty Senate. I've been working at UW-W since July 1, 1990.
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