Gov. Walker Signs Vulnerable User Bill

A bill strongly supported by the Bike Fed, which would increase penalties for careless drivers who kill or injure cyclists and pedestrians, was signed by Governor Scott Walker earlier today.

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).

Rep. Janel Brandtjen stands behind Gov. Scott Walker as he prepares to sign AB-201. The Bike Fed’s Dave Cieslewicz is behind her and to her left.

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.

Thanks to so many of you who responded to a Bike Fed Action Alert earlier this month in which we asked you to contact  Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) and Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), the bill’s primary authors, to thank them for their efforts. While waiting for the Governor, Rep. Brandtjen’s aide said, “Man, you guys really can get turn your members out!”

That’s really important because too often legislators only hear from people who are upset. Too few organizations remember to ask their members to contact legislators when they do something they like, but it goes a long way.

So, thanks to all of you for making your voice heard, thanks to all the legislators who supported this bi-partison bill and thanks to Gov. Walker for signing it into law.

About Dave Cieslewicz, Executive Director

Dave Cieslewicz served two terms as mayor of Madison where he set the city on a path for Platinum status as one of the best biking cities in North America. Before that he started his own nonprofit, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, which focuses on land use and transportation policy. He has been an adjunct professor at the UW Madison's Department of Urban and Regional Planning where he teaches a class called Bikes, Pedestrians and Cities. He pronounces his name chess LEV ich, but nobody else does.

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