University of Wisconsin–Madison

Bicycling

Bike Laws and Safety

Madison and Wisconsin laws recognize bicycles as vehicles, granting cyclists the same rights as other drivers on the road. However, along with these rights comes the responsibility to follow all traffic laws, just as you would in a motor vehicle. For specific information on bicycle laws, or any other law enforcement issue, please contact the UW Police Department for a copy of the brochure “What you need to know to ride safe”.

UW Police Department
1429 Monroe Street
Madison WI 53711
608-262-2957
www.uwpd.wisc.edu

Wisconsin law requires a white front light and a red rear reflector on bikes to increase nighttime visibility. Madison law requires all bicycles used within the city’s boundaries to be registered with the Madison Police Department. See the next tab for more details.

Registration is the law! Madison City Ordinance 12.78(1) requires all bicycles used within the city’s boundaries to be registered with the Madison Police Department unless they are currently registered with another municipality. Registration fees are $10 for four years.

You can register your bicycle:

For more information, visit the City of Madison bicycle registration page.

For further questions about registering your bicycle, call the City of Madison’s bicycle program office at (608) 266-4474 or the UW Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator at (608) 263-2969.

Benefits of Registering Your Bicycle

Bicycle Identification:

If your bike is stolen, its serial number is needed to aid police in its recovery. When a bike is registered with the Madison Police Department, the serial number can be cross-referenced with the bike owner’s name, and acts as an independent proof of ownership. Recovered bicycles that are not registered have less chance of being returned to their rightful owners, since proof of ownership is often more difficult.

Theft Deterrence:

Thieves may be less likely to steal a bike with a registration sticker since its owner can easily be identified. Stolen registered bicycles are posted on both statewide and nationwide crime computers.

  • Communicate with other road users. Even expert bicyclists need to be prepared for motorists, pedestrians, and other cyclists behaving unpredictably.
  • Be visible. Wear bright colors during the day. Use good lights and reflectors at night. Wisconsin law requires at least a white front light and a red rear reflector. Make sure that other drivers can see you. Discount coupons for bike lights are available at all Transportation Services offices.
  • Communicate with other drivers. Make eye contact with them to be sure you have been seen. Signal turns and lane changes.
  • Be aware of hazards. Watch ahead for surface hazards like broken glass, sand and potholes. Weather and light conditions create visual hazards, too. Watch for other traffic, including pedestrians, at intersections and driveways. Adapt your riding style as needed to minimize these and other potential hazards.
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals. Obeying the law is your first defense against being involved in a crash, and is the best way to gain respect from other road users. Bicyclists can be ticketed for traffic violations.
  • Always ride with traffic. Besides being illegal, riding against traffic in the roadway makes you unpredictable, especially to drivers turning at intersections, exiting driveways, or leaving parking spaces.
  • Ride at least three feet from parked cars to avoid being hit by a suddenly opened car door. A motorist passing a bicyclist is also required to give a bicycle three feet of clearance when passing.
  • Cross railroad tracks at an angle to avoid catching your wheel and falling.
  • Ride defensively. Be aware of what is going on all around you, and watch out for other drivers’ mistakes. Some common situations to watch for include:
    • a motorist coming toward you who turns left in front of you
    • a motorist passing you and then turning right in front of you
    • a motorist pulling out from a stop sign, driveway or parking space without yielding to you
  • Wear a helmet. Head injuries cause 75% of bicyclist deaths. Protect yourself from the unexpected by wearing your helmet whenever you ride. Discount coupons for bike helmets are available at all Transportation Services offices.

Bike Parking

Bicyclists have a number of options for parking on campus.

Locations

  • Bike racks are located near almost every building. Sheltered parking is located near the entrance of some parking ramps and some buildings with overhangs.
  • Sheltered secure bike lockers and bike cages are available to rent on a semester or annual basis.

Rules

  • Only park in designated bicycle racks.
  • Illegally parked bikes obstruct walkways and handrails, which presents serious hazards for people who use wheelchairs, canes, walkers, or who have other mobility or visual difficulties. Please don’t park your bike in the line of travel to stairs, ramps, doorways, and automatic door-buttons.
  • Bikes locked to trees can cause serious damage to or even kill a tree. Please keep campus beautiful by not locking your bike to trees/shrubs.
  • Illegally parked bikes are subject to impoundment. Bike racks (except those at residence halls) are not intended as long-term storage areas.
  • Full bicycle parking restrictions are outlined in the bicycle parking policy (PDF).
  • If you are consistently having problems finding a parking spot, please use the bike suggestion form to let us know.

Football Game Bicycle Parking

Want to ride your bike to the game? Try our bicycle parking corral, free for UW game attendees. The bicycle parking corral is sponsored by UW Transportation Services and provided by the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin using Saris racks. The corral is open for bicycle parking from two hours before game start until one hour after game end. There is no charge for the bicycle parking corral. A corral attendant will greet you and provide instructions for parking your bike. You should bring a lock to secure your bike, but the corral area will also be watched by attendants (do not leave any other items of value with your bicycle). The corral is located off the Southwest Commuter Bike Path, just east of the intersection of Monroe and Regent Streets. Bicycle Corral Map (PDF)

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Paid Bike Parking

Paid bicycle parking options may be available. New applicants can place themselves on up to two waitlists online for bike locker or cage locations. Waitlists are reviewed regularly; applicants will be sent an offer to purchase when one of their waitlist locations opens up. Please note: lockers and cages do not turn over very often, so you may have a long wait.

Existing renters may renew their locker or cage annually. An offer to renew will be sent in summer each year. Existing renters must accept their renewal offer before the noted deadline or they may lose their rental spot.

Where are bike lockers and cages? Check out the map of campus bike locker and cage locations. See below for details on bike cages and lockers, including application info:

  • Bike Cages

    Any UW-Madison employee or student is eligible to rent space in a bike cage.  If you need an efficient way to get around campus during the day, consider bringing a bike to campus, and storing it a bike cage! Bike cages are a great option for bicycle commuters who wish to keep their bicycles and accessories safe. Bicycle cages are shared storage areas with a secure locking system and protection from the weather.

    There is no limit on the amount of time your bike can be stored, which makes a bike cage a great option for students who don’t want to have to bring their bikes home for the winter.

    • Locations: Cages are available for rent in Lot 29 at 21 N. Park Street, in Lot 10 under the Education Building and in Lot 27 in the Nancy Nicholas Hall Garage.
    • Annual Cost: $65 (prorated on a monthly basis)

    Space in the bike cages is available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis. To be added to the bike cage waitlist:

      1. Visit the Transportation Services eBusiness portal
      2. Click Add/Edit Bike Locker or Moped Waitlists (located under Permits)
      3. Click Employee or Student Login and login with your NetID
      4. Check the I Agree box
      5. Click Next under Add/Edit your Account Waitlists (there will probably be a time delay here)
      6. Select locations (up to two) to be on the waitlist for and follow directions provided
      7. When a spot at your waitlist location opens up, you will be sent an offer to purchase online. You will need to log in again at that time to pay for the cage.

    The wait for an offer may be many months and a spot may never open in your requested area. If you receive an offer, accept it and pay for it. You will be able to access your assigned bike cage after 11 a.m. the business day following payment confirmation.

  • Bike Lockers

    Any UW-Madison employee or student is eligible to rent a bike locker. Bicycle lockers are individual storage units constructed of a highly durable waterproof material with a security locking system. These features protect a bicycle from adverse weather conditions and deter thieves and vandals. Each locker is approximately 40″ W by 75″ L by 50″ H and contains two separate spaces with one door on each end and a divider in the middle. There is no limit on the amount of time your bike can be stored in the locker. They are available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis. Most lockers have a sizable waitlist. Existing renters are given the right of first refusal for renewals.

    • Locations: AFCH/Lot 63B, Agricultural Hall, Bock Labs, Computer Science, Grainger Hall, Lot 36, Memorial Library, Social Science, Steenbock Library, Taylor Hall, UW Hospital/Lot 75, UWMF Centennial Building, Veterinary Medicine, Waisman Center and the WARF Building
    • Annual Cost: $85 (prorated on a monthly basis)

    The process to be put on a bike locker waitlist is as follows:

      1. Visit the Transportation Services eBusiness portal
      2. Click Add/Edit Bike Locker or Moped Waitlists (located under Permits)
      3. Click Employee or Student Login and login with your NetID
      4. Check the I Agree box
      5. Click Next under Add/Edit your Account Waitlists (there will probably be a time delay here)
      6. Select locations (up to two) to be on the waitlist for and follow directions provided
      7. When a spot at your waitlist location opens up, you will be sent an offer to purchase online. You will need to log in again at that time to pay for the locker.

    The wait for an offer may be many months and a spot may never open in your requested area. If you receive an offer, accept and pay for it. You may pick up your key at the 124 WARF office after 11 a.m. the business day following payment confirmation.

Bike Impoundment

Bicycles are impounded on the UW campus primarily when they’re indentified as abandoned bicycles (left in a bicycle parking area for more than three days/72 hours without moving; University Housing facilities are an exception). In rare cases, bicycles may need to be removed without notice due to construction or emergencies.

Typically three days’ notice is given, when possible, before removing bikes. Locked bikes that impede pedestrian access (especially those locked to handrails at steps or wheelchair ramps), may be impounded immediately with no notice.

Bike Recovery

If you think your bike has been impounded, contact the Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator at (608) 263-2969 or charles.strawser@wisc.edu. Please have information pertaining to the date and location your bike was last seen, physical description of the bike and/or a Madison registration/serial number.

If your bicycle was impounded from a location in the City of Madison not on the UW Campus (State Street Mall and some locations on University, Park, and Lake Streets), use the City of Madison’s Bicycle Recovery Program.

Bike Disposal

Impounded bicycles unclaimed after 60 days are delivered to UW SWAP, where they are then made available for sale. If you are moving and don’t want to take your bike with you, don’t abandon it! Instead, donate your unwanted bike to a local non-profit program. Contact Wheels for Winners (608-273-4787) or Dreambikes (608-467-6315).

Abandoned Bicycle Report Form

To report what appears to be an abandoned bicycle, please use the comment form below. Include as much detail as possible regarding location and bicycle description. Bikes are impounded several times per year. Your complaint will be kept until the next impoundment session at which time the bike will be tagged.

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