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Colorado Bicycle Helmet Laws

April 22, 2019

Colorado is one of the most bike-friendly states in the nation, constantly falling within the top ten lists of multiple bicycle publications. The vast network of bicycle paths and trails the state hosts speaks to just how enthusiastic Coloradans are about cycling.

In addition, you can find avid cyclists everywhere from Pike’s Peak to downtown Denver, showcasing the diverse landscapes Colorado cyclists enjoy.

Bicyclist wearing a helmet

Bicycle Helmet Laws in Colorado

Since cyclists are so numerous throughout the state, questions often arise regarding the bicycle helmet laws in Colorado. At this time, Colorado bicycle helmet laws are fairly sparse. Currently, the law requires bicycle helmets in only one situation – while a user is operating an electric bicycle.

Riders may operate a Class 3 electric bike – defined as an electric bike offering motor assistance only while the rider pedals, up to 28 miles per hour – only under the following circumstances.

  • Riders or passengers under the age of 18 wear a helmet designed for use by cyclists
  • The bicycle helmet adheres to certain design regulations as determined by the American Society for Testing and Materials or the US Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • The helmet remains in place and secured by an approved chin strap whenever the electric bike is in operation

Other than the relatively new electric bicycle requirements, no Colorado statute requires the use of bicycle helmets. In fact, every other law regarding cyclists in Colorado has more to do with the general behavior of the rider than with approved or mandatory safety gear. However, physicians, lawmakers, Denver bike accident lawyers, and cyclists alike continue to recommend the use of dedicated bicycle helmets for all riders.

Why Should You Wear a Bicycle Helmet?

When safety gear is not mandatory, it can be difficult to persuade riders to protect themselves. Many riders see bicycle helmets as an inconvenience at best, and as an unnecessary hardship at worst. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety cites 835 deaths in 2016 as a primary reason to consider wearing a helmet.

According to the IIHS, most cyclist deaths result from severe head injuries. Wearing a helmet can reduce your chances of sustaining a head injury by as much as 50% and reduce neck injury by up to 33%. Bicycle helmets prevent blunt trauma to the skull as well as the concussions and other traumatic brain injuries that result from the brain striking the interior of the skull when the head hits a hard surface. Children, especially, should wear helmets at all times, due to the additional fragility of youth cranial bones.

How Can You Find the Right Bicycle Helmet?

If you are in the market for a new bicycle helmet, search online to find a few highly rated helmets in your price range. Then, take a trip to an area shop to ensure the proper fit. Keep an eye out for the following fit characteristics.

Ensure a Snug Fit

Before buckling, your helmet should be snug, to prevent sliding out of position while riding, but not uncomfortable. Ideally, your head should touch all the interior foam pads, and compress each only slightly. You can fine-tune the fit with additional included pads.

Check the Straps

The side straps should form a V shape forward of and underneath your earlobes. When you move the helmet front to back or side to side, the resulting motion should wrinkle the skin at your forehead and temples slightly.

Check the Edges

The front edge should rest just above your eyebrows, while the back edge should allow for your usual and any potential hairstyle, such as braids or ponytails.

Tighten the Chin Strap

You will need to tighten the chin strap so that it fits firmly, but not too tight. When you open your mouth, you should feel pressure on the top of your head as the straps pull your helmet downward.

Although not required by Colorado law in most cases, cyclists should wear helmets to ensure their own safety. Use the above guide to find a helmet that properly fits and enjoy the peace of mind provided by the additional protection a helmet can provide.