Bicycling at Night in Wisconsin

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Now that fall, with all its beautiful colors, is here, many people will be spending more time outdoors. Aside from being a great source of exercise, bicycling is one of the most popular outdoor activities in our area because Wisconsin is home to over 90 state parks, trails, and wildlife areas that all offer breathtaking views for bicyclists. Wisconsin drivers are also noticing an increase in the number of bicycles on the road. The recent increase in bicycle traffic seems to be the perfect opportunity to remind cyclists of some important rules of the road pertaining specifically to bicycles. This article focuses primarily on the legal requirements associated with bicycle riding at night.

Wisconsin Laws For Bicycling at Night

While it is not illegal to ride a bike after dark, there are a few specific requirements that must be met in order to legally operate a bicycle at night. Just like vehicles must utilize their lights in order to lawfully operate at night, bicycles are subject to similar requirements after the sun goes down. Bikes are not allowed to be on the road after dark if they are not equipped with the proper lights and reflectors. Set forth in Chapter 347 of the Wisconsin Statutes, the following rules pertaining to bicycling at night promote safety for cyclists and motor vehicle drivers alike during the hours of darkness.

1. The bike must be equipped with, or the operator must wear, a lamp emitting white light that can be seen from a distance of at least 500 feet in front of the bicycle.

2. The rear of the bike must be equipped with a red reflector mounted such that it can be seen from all distances between 50-500 feet directly behind the bike by a vehicle using lawful upper beam headlights. The surface area of the red reflector must be at least two inches in diameter.

3. A lamp which emits a flashing red light may be used instead of a red reflector as long as the light is visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear of the bike.

Keep Wisconsin Roads Safe

Whether you’re an avid cyclist or just enjoy a leisurely bike ride every so often, it is important to be aware of the laws affecting bicyclists in Wisconsin. Not only does this directly impact bicycle accident cases, but it also directly impacts your safety. If you plan on a nighttime ride, be sure your bike complies with the requirements listed above. Doing so will prevent injuries and ensure safety for everyone.

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