Before you ride a bicycle in Colorado, it is important to know all state and municipal laws that apply to you. Breaking these rules can expose you to an increased risk of accidents. Understanding Colorado’s bicycle laws can also allow you to recognize when a motor vehicle driver has violated your right as a bicyclist and is liable for a related collision. Keep up with the latest bicycle laws to help keep yourself safe as a cyclist in Denver.
Like all road users, bicyclists must obey the rules of the road. These rules are not very different from the rules that apply to standard motor vehicle operators. For example, bicyclists have the right to ride on all public roads. When doing so, they must obey all roadway signs and standard traffic rules. Bicyclists must obey posted speed limits, for example, and come to full stops at stop signs and red traffic lights. Bicyclists must also ride in the correct direction of traffic according to traffic patterns. They must stay as far to the right-hand side of the road as possible unless making a left-hand turn or avoiding roadside hazards.
It is against the law for a bicyclist to share a lane with a motor vehicle. Although two bicyclists can ride abreast of one another, a bicyclist cannot ride next to a motor vehicle or on the line between two lanes (lane splitting). If a motor vehicle driver wishes to pass a cyclist, he or she legally must leave at least three feet of space between the car and the bicycle, including mirrors and trailers.
When it comes to the right-of-way at stop signs and intersections, bicycles are treated the same way as standard motor vehicles. A cyclist has a duty to yield the right-of-way to another roadway user at an intersection if that user stopped at the intersection first or has a green light. It is against the law for a bike rider to run a red light or stop sign. Similarly, motor vehicle drivers have a responsibility to yield the right-of-way way to cyclists, when applicable. When making a left-hand turn, for instance, a driver must wait until a cyclist has safely passed before turning.
If there is a bicycle lane provided, bikers must use this lane. If not, bicyclists have the right to ride on the road. If they wish to ride on the sidewalk, they must check the municipal law. Most downtown areas in Colorado have either prohibited bicycle riding on sidewalks or created lower speed limits. In Denver, for example, cyclists are prohibited from riding on sidewalks except in limited circumstances, such as while delivering newspapers
Colorado does not have a universal law requiring cyclists to wear helmets. Bicyclists of all ages don’t have to wear helmets if they do not want to, although doing so can dramatically reduce the risk of a serious or fatal head injury in a bicycle accident. There may be local laws enforcing different helmet requirements, however, such as mandatory helmets for children under the age of 18 or 16. Check local laws before heading out on your bicycle.
A bicycle must contain certain pieces of equipment to be ridden on public roads in Colorado. These requirements include, at a minimum, a white light that is visible from at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle and a red light or red reflector that is visible from at least 100 feet to the rear of the bike if riding at night. A bicycle must also have a seat for all riders, as well as working brakes.
If you get involved in a bicycle accident in Colorado, contact a Denver bike accident attorney for information about bicycle accident laws.