A bill strongly supported by the Bike Fed, which would increase penalties for careless drivers who kill or injure cyclists and pedestrians, has been passed by the legislature and awaits the governor’s signature.
The bill (Assembly Bill 201) increases penalties for a host of moving violations that are of particular concern to vulnerable road users like people who ride bikes and walk. It would apply to things like failure to yield to a bike, pedestrian or electric mobility device in a cross walk, failure to stop at an intersection or failure to yield while turning at an intersection (often referred to as a right or left hook).
Under current law penalties for these violations range from $20 to $300, but under the bill the penalty could be $500 if the violation causes serious injury and $1,000 if it causes death. The bill also requires that the driver’s license be suspended for three months in the case of serious injury and nine months in the case of death. And even when a violation does not result in a serious injury or death, drivers would be required to take a vehicle right of way course.
And of course all of that is in addition to any civil suit that might come as a result of the violation.
For several sessions the Bike Fed has been working to pass “vulnerable user” legislation. While this bill doesn’t go as far as earlier proposals, it’s a very welcome step in the right direction.
The Bike Fed sends out its thanks and appreciation to Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) and Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), the bill’s primary authors. We also thank all the legislators who voted for the bill when it was passed last week. This bipartisan bill was passed on voice votes in each house. Governor Scott Walker is expected to sign the bill soon and it will go into effect shortly thereafter.
Legislators often hear from citizens when they do something we don’t like. But it’s also important that they hear from us when they do things we find praise worthy. So, please take a moment to email Rep. Brandtjen (Rep.Brandtjen@legis.wisconsin.gov) and Sen. Olsen (Sen.Olsen@legis.wisconsin.gov) and tell them how much you appreciate their efforts to make it safer out there for people who ride a bike and walk. And while you’re at it please mention that you belong to the Bike Fed.