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Top 5 Bicycle Laws in Colorado You Should Know

April 18, 2018

In 2017, 16 bicyclists in Colorado died in traffic collisions. This tied with 2016 as the highest number of bicyclist deaths in the state in a 15-year period. As a bicyclist, staying safe on Colorado’s roadways means being predictable. One of the top reasons bicycle accidents occur is because someone breaks the rules. If a motorist can’t predict your next move because you’re not obeying the rules, you increase your risk of a collision. Obeying the state’s bike laws can also help you limit your personal liability for accidents and injuries. Here are the five most important bicycle laws to know.

  • Where Can You Ride?

    • In Colorado, a bicycle is the same as a motor vehicle in the eyes of the law. This means bicyclists have the same legal rights and responsibilities as drivers when on public roads within the state, according to the Colorado Revised Statutes (section 42-4-1412). Bicyclists may ride on all public roads and streets, except for highways. Bikes may ride two abreast as long as it does not impede the flow of traffic. A bicyclist cannot ride next to a motor vehicle in the same lane, however, except when passing. In Denver and in most downtown areas in Colorado, bicycles must ride on the roads and not on the sidewalks.
  • Traffic Laws

    • It is your duty as a bicyclist to obey all applicable rules of the road as you would if you were operating a motor vehicle. This includes riding in the same direction as traffic, sticking to the right lane whenever possible, stopping at red lights and stop signs, yielding the right-of-way, and signaling your intent to turn. The only exception is if a law applies only to bicyclists. For example, bicyclists may use cell phones while biking. Regular drivers cannot text and drive (all ages) or make phone calls (under the age of 18) in Colorado. Police can cite bicyclists just like motorists for traffic infractions.
  • Helmet Rules

    • Wearing a helmet can significantly decrease the risk of serious head and face injuries. Despite many states enacting universal helmet laws, currently no law universally enforces helmet wearing for bicyclists in Colorado. Riders, regardless of age, can legally operate a bicycle without a helmet. If a bicyclist gets into an accident without a helmet and suffers a head or brain injury, the courts might deem the individual negligent for failing to wear head protection while knowing the risks of injury. Always wear a helmet to protect yourself from serious injuries and liability.
  • Equipment Requirements

    • Any person operating a bicycle in Colorado must use a white lamp or light in the front of the bike that’s visible for at least 500 feet to the front and a red light or reflector that’s visible for 600 feet to the rear. These lights must make the bicycle discernible for other vehicles between sunset and sunrise, as well as any time the light is insufficient because of weather or other conditions. The sides of the bicycle must also have reflective material visible for 600 feet. Bikes cannot have sirens or whistles. Bicycles need proper brakes and must have a second seat if more than one person is riding upon the vehicle.
  • Right-Of-Way Rules

    • It can be easy to assume that bicyclists and pedestrians always have the right-of-way as vulnerable road users. Like motor vehicles, however, bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to others (including vehicles) when applicable. This includes at four-way stops, stop signs, red lights, crosswalks, and intersections. Bicyclists must also yield to pedestrians if riding on sidewalks. Failing to yield the right-of-way, resulting in a collision, may be the bicyclist’s fault even if the bicyclist suffered much greater injuries than the other party. Learn more about bicyclist rights and laws with help from a personal injury attorney in Denver.