DRBC Legal Notes: Rules of the Path

By Ross Seymour

Bicycling on trails.

Wisconsin has a short statute on how people are to use bike/ped paths.  Those rules are found at Sec.  346.803 of the Wisconsin statutes.  The rules apply to “Bicycle Ways.”  Bicycle ways are defined as any path or sidewalk designated for the use of bicycles by the relevant governmental body.  (Sec. 340.01(5s))  Bicycle ways are distinguished from bicycle lanes.  Lanes are for the exclusive use of bicycles while ways are not exclusively for bicycles (presumably to include pedestrians).

First, the bicyclist must exercise due care and give an audible signal when passing another bicyclist or a pedestrian.  Due care would mean giving a wide enough berth while passing or taking care to pass on a section where it would be safe.  While most bicycle ways around here have good sight lines there are a few places where you can’t see far ahead enough to pass safely.  On a regular road these sections would have “no passing” signs or markings.

The audible signal requirement actually comes out of the Rule of the Road for motor vehicles.  A little known requirement is that when passing another automobile, the passing car is required to give an audible signal while passing (presumable a toot of the horn).  (Sec. 346.07(3))  An “audible signal” is left undefined by the statutes. Continue reading DRBC Legal Notes: Rules of the Path

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