Legislative Priorities

As the state’s only organization that represents everyone who rides a bicycle in Wisconsin, the staff at the Bike Fed has our work cut out for us. While our organization is growing, we will never have offices in every municipality in the state. And while we have been increasing the number of our local ambassadors around the state every year, we will never have enough staff to attend every meeting concerning trails and on-street bikeways. By passing bicycle-friendly state legislation, we are able to have a positive effect from Ashland to Kenosha and all points in between.

The Bike Fed has been successful in our legislative efforts because our staff works cooperatively with all our local, state and national elected officials, regardless of party affiliation. Bicycling in Wisconsin has a long history of delivering a very high return in a relatively small investment. Pumping more than $1.5 billion a year into our state economy, bicycling truly is “bike-partisan.”

The Bike Fed’s legislative efforts have only been successful because of good strategic planning for each campaign. Those campaigns begin with you, our members, carrying the message to your locally elected representatives. The next step is to work with our paid Republican and Democratic lobbyists and key legislators to get our proposed legislation drafted and introduced. Once the legislation drops, the hundreds of members who come to the annual state bike summit spread the message in the Capitol. The Bike Fed has had good luck getting private meetings with the governor as well as Senate and House leadership to make sure they understand and support our legislative campaigns.

While we are a Wisconsin advocacy organization, we also work at the national level to ensure our interests are represented in Washington. Bike Fed staff attend the annual national Bike Summit, and we have excellent working relationships with most of the Wisconsin members of the House and Senate in Washington, D.C.

Feel free to contact us about our future priorities or if you have any questions about the legislation we have helped get passed already.

2013 Legislative Priorities

Goal 1: Restore federal funding for bicycling in the transportation budget

The Governor’s proposed biennial budget for 2013-2014 cuts $14 million in federal funding for bicycling from the state transportation budget. Overall, the Governor is proposing to increase the transportation budget from $5.7 billion to $6.4  billion, but despite the increases increase for highway projects, bicycle funding would be cut. The Bike Fed is working to either maintain the previous level of federal funding for bicycling.

Goal 2: Adopt Vulnerable User legislation

Click here to read a preliminary draft of our proposed Vulnerable User Law. The Law provides for greater penalties for motorists injuring or killing vulnerable users of the road.
States with law: Illinois (allows for Class 3 felony), Oregon, New York (A07917-C S5292-B) and Delaware

Our past legislative priorities

Adopt technical revisions to bicycling laws

Adopt various technical revisions to bicycling laws, including right hand signaling, bicycle lighting, definition of bicycling, use of studded tires on the roadway and passing slow-moving vehicles when a solid yellow line is present.
UPDATE: Passed AB265 on November 16, 2011.

Change state law to allow local municipalities to regulate moped parking

Currently under state law, local municipalities cannot regulate the location of moped parking. Proposed changes to state law would allow local municipalities the option to regulate by passing a local ordinance.
UPDATE: Passed AB265 on November 16, 2011.

Ensure proper and positive implementation of Wisconsin’s Complete Streets law

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has released guidance on the implementation of the state’s Complete Streets law (TRANS 75) and is nearing completion of FDM 11-46 to formalize the law in the Facilities Development Manual that is referenced by engineers and municipalities throughout the state when constructing new or reconstructing old transportation facilities. The Bike Fed should ensure that this document properly reflects the intent of the law and that it is complied with following implementation.
UPDATE: WisDOT and local municipalities across the state are now routinely including bicycle accommodations on road projects.

Develop a consistent process to review state and local transportation projects

The Bike Fed needs to define a consistent process for when to review state and local transportation projects. This process should define when a project should be reviewed, who is responsible for reviewing it and the steps needed to offer constructive comments to the sponsoring agency.

Advocate for bicycling facilities on specific projects of critical importance

Specific transportation projects in Wisconsin are of critical importance for expanding bicycle access and connectivity. These projects often involve bridge reconstructions, but this is not always the case. The Bike Fed should identify critical infrastructure projects that may not include bicycle facilities, and it should advocate for the inclusion of such facilities in each project. Two specific projects are noted below.

Allow bicycle and pedestrian accommodations on the redesigned and reconstructed Hoan Bridge

There is currently no plan to provide for bicycle and pedestrian accommodations on the reconstructed Milwaukee Hoan Bridge over the Milwaukee River. Work with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the City of Milwaukee and the Governor’s Office to ensure accommodations are provided.

Allow bicycle and pedestrian accommodations on the redesigned and reconstructed Dresbach Bridge

There is currently no plan to provide for bicycle and pedestrian accommodations on the reconstructed Dresbach Bridge where Interstate 90 crosses the Mississippi barge channel at La Crosse. Work with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Governor’s Office to ensure accommodations are provided and assist the Minnesota advocates in working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. MNDOT is the lead on the Wisconsin/Minnesota connection.

Legislative History

1995: Update of the state’s bicycle laws defining a bicyclist’s rights.
2007: Protected funding for our state trails, reinstate funding for bicycle facilities.

  1. Established $5 million Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities Fund in the state budget.
  2. Created one of the nation’s first complete-streets statutes.
  3. Created a law to protect bicyclists and other road users from the careless opening of car doors into traffic.


  1. Restored $2 million to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities Fund after it had been zeroed out in the draft budget.
  2. Passed Bicycle Tune-Up Bill, which updated technical bicycle provisions.


  1. Passed a stripped down version of our vulnerable user law that did not include the penalty enhancers. We will work to get those added in a future legislative session.
  2. Changed WDNR rule NR45, which closed state trails after 11pm, to keep trails open 24 hours