Bicycle Safety

Bicycle Licensing Fee and Registration
The Village of Grafton requires bicycle owners to obtain a Village of Grafton bicycle license, which is an individualized bicycle registration number that is specific to the owner's bicycle. This aids the police department in identifying lost and/or stolen bicycles. A bicycle license registration card can be picked up and completed at the Grafton Police Department. Information kept on file at the police department consists of bicycle owner's name, address and telephone number, as well as make, serial number and color of bicycle. The cost of the bicycle license is $5.00, and the license is non-expiring.


Bicycles are considered vehicles [340.01(5)]. The operator of a bicycle is granted the same rights and is subject to the same duties of any other driver of any other vehicle. [346.02(4)(a)]

A motorist passing a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction must leave no less than three feet clearance when passing the bicycle. [346.075(1)]

Crossing controlled intersection or crosswalk
At an intersection or crosswalk where traffic is controlled by traffic control signals or by a traffic officer, a bicyclist must yield the right of way to a pedestrian who has started to cross the highway on a green or "Walk" signal. In all other cases, a pedestrian must yield the right of way to the bicyclist lawfully proceeding ahead on a green signal. [346.23(1)]

Crossing at uncontrolled intersection or crosswalk
At an intersection or crosswalk where traffic is not controlled by traffic control signals or by a traffic officer, a bicyclist must yield the right of way to a pedestrian. [346.24(1)]

Crossing at place other than crosswalk
A pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked or unmarked crosswalk must yield the right of way to a bicyclist upon the roadway. [346.25]

Signals for turning
A bicyclist must use a turning signal continuously during the last fifty feet traveled before turning. A signal by the hand and arm does not have to be continuous if the hand is needed to control the bicycle. [346.34(1)(b)]

Signals for stopping
A bicyclist may not stop or suddenly decrease the speed of the bicycle without first giving a signal to the operator of any vehicle immediately to the rear when there is opportunity to give such signal. [346.34(2)]

Method of giving signals on turning and stopping
A bicyclist must use his left hand and arm in the following manner:

1. Left turn - Hand and arm extended horizontally. [346.35(1)]

2. Right turn - Hand and arm extended upward. [346.35(2)]

3. Stop or decrease speed - Hand and arm extended downward. [346.35(3)]

Red traffic signal
A bicyclist facing a red signal at an intersection, after stopping as required for at least 45 seconds, may proceed cautiously through the intersection before the signal turns green if no other vehicles are present. [346.37(1)(c)(4)]

Duty to report accident
A bicyclist involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person, or total property damage owned by any person of $1,000.00 or more must immediately give notice of such accident to the police. [346.70(1)]

Special rules applicable to bicycles
Whenever a bicycle is operated upon a highway, bicycle lane or bicycle way, the following rules apply:

1. A bicyclist must ride upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached to the bicycle. [346.79(1)]

2. No bicycle may be used to carry or transport more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed except that a bicycle may be used to carry or transport a child seated in an auxiliary child's seat or trailer designed for attachment to a bicycle if the seat or trailer is securely attached to the bicycle. [346.79(2)]

3. A bicyclist may not carry any package, bundle, or article which prevents the bicyclist from keeping at least one hand upon the handle bars. [346.79(3)]

4. A bicyclist may not attach himself or herself or the bicycle to any vehicle upon a roadway. [346.79(4)]

5. A motor bicycle with the power unit in operation is prohibited upon a bicycle way. [346.79(5)]

Lane positioning
A bicyclist must ride as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb except:

1. When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction. [346.80(2)(a)(1)]

2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway. [346.80(2)(a)(2)]

3. When reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions. [346.80(2)(a)(3)]

One way streets
A bicyclist on a one way street with two or more lanes of traffic may ride as near the left hand edge or curb of the roadway as practicable. [346.80(2)(b)]

Riding two-abreast

Bicyclists may ride two abreast as long as traffic is not impeded and both ride within a single lane. [346.80(3)(a)]

Riding on sidewalks
When local authorities permit bicycles on the sidewalk, bicyclists must yield the right of way to any pedestrian and must give an audible signal when passing another bicyclist or pedestrian proceeding in the same direction. [346.804]

Night bicycling
Bicycling at night requires that the bicycle be equipped with or the bicyclist wear a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet. A bicycle must also be equipped with a red rear reflector that has a diameter of at least two inches of surface area visible to others between 50 and 500 feet away. [347.489(1)]

Use of Helmets
In Wisconsin, cyclists are not required by law to wear a helmet. However, in 2002, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that failing to wear a helmet may be used as a defense to reduce the amount of damages recoverable to a person riding an open air vehicle at the time of injury.

This plays out as follows: The court determines whether a safety helmet was available, and whether there is evidence indicating a causal relationship between the injuries sustained and the failure to use a helmet. If the court finds availability and a causal relationship, the court will instruct the jury that it may limit recovery on these facts. Following the rules of the road will keep you in good standing with the law and prevent accidents.