Your bicycle is a motor vehicle. Probably your horse as well. What about skateboards? Well, It’s all laid out in the signs… or not.
If you happen to visit the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area (SPRA) one thing you’ll see more of than the wildlife are signs. The most common signs are; “Closed Area“, “Road Closed To Motor Vehicles” and “Road Closed To Public Travel“. There are also landfill warnings, underground cables markers, private property signs and Ho-Chunk property maps, all within the world’s most complicated boundary lines! It can get pretty confusing. (Especially when many of the signs are located on plastic barrels that are moving around faster than the pieces in a game of speed chess!) For the moment though, I just wanted to share the solution to a little confusion I had.
Specifically, I wondered about riding my bike on the old pavement roads within the SPRA. Like any average person, I read the signs and came to the most obvious conclusion; If the sign said, “Road Closed To Public Travel” I’d stay off of it. Makes sense. It also makes sense that I could ride my bike on the abandon, paved roads marked “Closed To Motor Vehicles”. Except I can’t. I reached out to Paul Zajackowski at the DNR and he explained;
“Bicycles are only allowed on the roads open to highway licensed vehicles… This is stated on page 25 of the master plan and Natural Resource Administrative Code 45 defines bicycle use on state owned and managed properties. Moving forward for the State Recreation Area, bicycle use will be allowed on the roads open to highway licensed vehicles and designated bike trails once developed. “
So a bicycle is a motor vehicle when reading signs within the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area (and other DNR properties). Well, there’s that cleared up!
But let’s look at this rationally for a moment. The average user will not be reading the master plan or digging into Code 45 to figure out what the DNR has defined as a motor vehicle in this case. They will simply read the signs and assume the most sane interpretation of what they see before their eyes. They will (And should be allowed to in my opinion…) feel perfectly free to ride their bicycles on old paved roads with signs that say “Closed to Motor Vehicles” while staying out of areas that say “Closed To Public Travel” or “Closed Area”. They will do what the signs tell them to do. Remember the KISS principle.. “Keep it simple, stupid”.
What’s more, to add to the confusion, the barrels and signs are constantly being moved, removed, pushed aside and spun around now. With no one out there regularly to supervise the property and enforce whatever rules are printed on signs, let alone interpreted in code, I suppose it’s all a bit of a mute point…
Well, Nevermind then. As you were…
***Obligatory Disclaimer: This website is NOT associated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The views expressed in this blog are mine and do not represent the views of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (Which is sometimes too bad if you ask me!).