Blitzed bicycling: It's legal to drink and cycle in Wisconsin

Published: May. 25, 2018 at 6:34 PM CDT
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This summer the City of Green Bay will roll out a bicycle sharing program that some hoped would reduce the number of people who drink getting behind the wheel of a car.

In most cycling circles, having a beer or two is par for the course. But is it legal? Absolutely, under Wisconsin law.

"I'm pretty sure people don't know the rules, because I even asked some cops here and they didn't know some of the rules about drinking and driving on a bicycle. So we need to make sure that everybody gets educated and knows that it's not a great idea, but it's not against the law," Chief Andrew Smith said.

Wisconsin is one of 29 states where you can operate your own bike while drunk because it doesn't have a motor on it. But that doesn't mean it's a good idea.

"While you're drunk, it's a pretty bad idea. It's a pretty dangerous thing to do. And we saw just recently a fatality of a bicyclist here in Green Bay," Chief Andrew Smith said.

Green Bay's chief of police says there's no city ordinance against drunk bicycling, either, or skating or kayaking.

"If you're in a rowboat, they don't worry so much about you being intoxicated, but if you're in a motorized boat then you've got trouble," Smith said.

But if you want to drink and use the city's new Lime Bike sharing program expected to start next month, think again.

The Lime Bike user agreement says you'll pay a fine if you drink and bike.

Even on your own bike you can be cited for not following traffic laws. And just like it's not legal to driver with an open alcohol container, it's not legal on your bike, either.

"You can be cited as a cyclist for violating any of the rules of the road," Smith said.

We saw plenty of people out in the nice weather in downtown Green Bay drinking beer with their bicycles parked nearby.

"I always save my drinking for after the bike ride is over, and you know, sit around with your friends and talk about the ride you went on, then you can enjoy and that's always the safest way to do it," the chief said.

No, bicycling drunk is not illegal.

But it's not recommended, either.