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Rules of the Road for Colorado Bicyclists

September 19, 2022

Riding a bicycle on or around the roadway can be a great way to get from point A to point B, but bicyclists are also more vulnerable than other roadway users. It is imperative for bicyclists to follow the rules on the road as set forth by Colorado law. Here, our Denver bike accident lawyers want to review the main rules that individuals need to know as given by the Colorado Department of Transportation’s bicycling manual.

Rules of the Road for Colorado Bicyclists

Bicycles are Considered Vehicles for Traffic Law Purposes

One of the most important things that bicyclists need to know is that bicycles are considered vehicles when it comes to traffic laws. Both bicycles and vehicles have the right to be on the roadway, and they must abide by all traffic laws and respect one another.

Bicyclists have to follow all traffic signs and signals, including stoplights, stop signs, yield signs, and more. There are very few areas in Colorado that have passed laws that allow bicyclists to use stop signs as yield signs as opposed to actual stop signs. It is best to do research and understand your local community laws before riding. In general, assume that all stop signs mean just that – stop.

  • Bicyclists are required to ride with the flow of traffic unless they are inside of a designated counterflow lane just for bicyclists.
  • Bicyclists are required to yield to pedestrians just like vehicles have to yield to pedestrians.
  • Bicyclists should use hand signals at least 100 feet before turning, merging, or stopping, so long as they can safely do so while operating their bicycles.
  • So long as they do not impede traffic when doing so, bicyclists are allowed to ride side by side. This can increase visibility in many circumstances.
  • Bicyclists should ride as close as possible to the right side of the lane, moving with traffic. Bicyclists can, however, use the full lane if they wish to do so, particularly when preparing for a left turn, avoiding obstacles, or increasing visibility.
  • All bicyclists should check their local ordinances to determine whether or not it is allowed for them to ride on sidewalks.

Bicyclists are responsible for having a white front light and a red rear reflector and side reflector when they operate at night, dusk, or when visibility is poor. The white lamp or light on the front of the bike must be visible at least 500 feet from the front. A red light or reflector on the rear of the bike must be visible up to 600 feet away. The side reflectors on a bicycle must be visible at least 600 feet away. Bicycles in Colorado are not allowed to have any whistles or sirens.

Are Helmets Required for Colorado Bicyclists?

The Colorado Department of Transportation does encourage every bicyclist to wear a helmet, along with proper glasses and other safety gear, when riding. However, state law does not require bicycle riders to wear helmets. Some jurisdictions around the country have helmet laws in place just for those under the age of 18, but Colorado does not have a law regarding bicycle helmet rules, including for minors.