In 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 726 bicyclists died nationwide in accidents involving motor vehicles. The average age of those killed was 43. An additional 49,000 got hurt in such collisions.
Bicyclists (not just motorists) have the right to use most public roadways. Wisconsin law states that “every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway or shoulder of a highway is granted all the rights and is subject to all the duties which this chapter grants or applies to the operator of a vehicle,” with various exceptions. (Sec. 346.02(4)(a), Wis. Stats.)
The most important part of Wisconsin law peculiar to bicycles is this: when passing, drivers of motor vehicles are supposed to keep at least three feet away from bicyclists. This three-foot safety zone is not limited to any particular part of the roadway, but is measured from the cyclist and moves with the cyclist.
Many motorists may be unaware of the three-foot rule, but instinctively give bicyclists wide berth. Unfortunately some drivers fail to understand how vulnerable bicyclists are, and there are a few drivers who think bicyclists should not use the public roads at all. Conversely, there are also plenty of bicyclists who fail to obey the rules of the road. (We see this frequently in and about the UW campus in Madison.)
Not only have we litigated these issues, but we are both avid cyclists who appreciate, from first-hand experience, the pleasures and dangers of bicycling. We regularly ride as fundraisers for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
If you have been hit by any sort of motor vehicle (car, truck, bus, motorcycle, etc.) while riding your bike, we would be happy to review the circumstances of your accident and let you know whether we think you have a claim worth pursuing.