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Duke Behnke's Watchdog Q&A: Motorcyclists aren't allowed to block cross traffic for other bikers

3:31 PM, Oct. 19, 2013  |  Comments
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Q I recently saw a large group of motorcycle riders, 50 or more, travel through the intersection of State 55 and County E in downtown Freedom. One of the motorcyclists stopped in the middle of the intersection to block cross traffic and allow all of the bikers to go through without stopping or yielding to traffic. Is that legal?

A No, it is not legal.

Capt. Mike Jobe of the Outagamie County Sheriff's Department said the only time it would be permitted is if the person was assisting traffic "at the direction of an officer on the scene."

Motorcycle clubs occasionally ask the sheriff's department to post deputies at multiple intersections to direct traffic for a charity ride. While the department might be able to assist at a major intersection, it doesn't have the resources to be at every intersection, and the rules of the road apply.

"They are not authorized to run stop lights or stop signs," Jobe said. "If there's an accident and there's property damage or, God forbid, somebody's seriously injured or killed, they're going to be liable."

A motorcyclist who dons an orange vest to wave fellow riders through an intersection has no special privileges.

"They can't absolve themselves of liability," Jobe said. "There are other ways to accomplish things without having private citizens standing in intersections waving people through red lights. It's ill-advised. It's unlawful."

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