Jul 2, 2021

From impeccable views and well-maintained trails to lively biking communities and annual cycling events, Colorado consistently ranks as one of the top bicycle friendly states.

While bicycling is encouraged throughout the state, it's vital to know and obey the state laws that are put into place regarding bikes. In the last decade, there have been thousands of crashes in Colorado involving bicycles.

Colorado bike laws are in place to keep you safe. They're also established so that other motorists can help predict bicyclists' actions. One of the most common causes of bicycle accidents is either the driver or bicyclist not following the rules of the road.

To help keep you safe and reduce the risk of a collision, here are a few Colorado bike laws you should know before you hit the road.

Colorado Bike Laws: The Rules of the Road

In the eyes of the law in Colorado, a bicycle is the same as a motor vehicle. This means bicyclists have the same responsibilities and legal rights as other drivers on the roads, and they also have rules of the road.

If you're going to partake in riding your bike on public roads, it's important to know and obey all of the rules of the road. If bicyclists fail to comply with the rules of the road, they can receive tickets and citations—just like motorists.

Here are some Colorado bike laws that you should be aware of:

Ride with traffic not against it

According to Colorado law, bikes are like any other vehicle on the road. Bicyclists have the same rights as motorists, and by law, they have to share the road and follow the same rules. This means, legally, bicyclists must ride with traffic, not against it.

Ride on the right side of the road, as far to the right as possible

Bicyclists are required to ride on the right side of the road, as near to the right as possible and safe, when riding below the posted speed limit. The exception to this rule is when overtaking vehicles, avoiding hazards, or turning.

Ride single file

If you ride a bicycle on a roadway, it's law that you ride single file. It’s important to note that riding no more than two abreast is legal in certain circumstances such as when it does not impede the normal flow of traffic and when riding on paths set aside for bikes.

When you can ride in a lane

When a bike lane is available, bicyclists must use it. If a bike lane is not available, the bicyclist is to stay to the far right, riding alongside traffic. Bike riders must also travel in the same direction as traffic and stay in the lane at all times. They must avoid weaving in and out of traffic and only move into the left lane if they plan to turn left.

In Colorado, bicyclists are also allowed to ride in the middle of the lane, also referred to  as "taking the lane", in several different situations. For example, if there isn’t a bike lane or a shoulder, if traffic is slow and the travel lane is narrow, and when approaching an intersection.

Obey the traffic laws

Since bicycles are like any other vehicle on the road, cyclists must act as if they are a vehicle driver. This means obeying all traffic laws such as stopping at stop signs, lights, crosswalks, and more.

Use hand signals when turning

Colorado law states that a cyclist must signal to turn or stop for 100 feet. If you want to turn left, you extend your left hand and arm horizontally. For a right turn, you extend your left hand and arm upward or extend your right hand and arm horizontally. To stop, you extend your hand and arm downward.

Use lights

A cyclist must use lights if riding between sunset and sunrise. Colorado law requires that bikes have a bright light that is visible from a minimum of 500 feet in the front. The law also requires a red reflector on the back that is visible from all angles ranging from 100 to 600 feet.

Yield to pedestrians

Under Colorado law, all vehicles (including bikes) are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians walking on marked crosswalks and unmarked crosswalks at intersections.

Colorado Bike Laws: What You Can’t Do

Colorado may be known for being one of the best states for cycling, but that doesn’t mean there aren't a few illegal activities to watch out for!

Ride on the sidewalk

When cycling, you can't ride on the sidewalk. You need to use the bike lane or walk your bike if you’re going to go on the sidewalk.

Pass on the right

You need to always pass on the left, similar to the rules of driving. Passing on the right can cause a collision. And for your own safety, don't pass right-turning vehicles in the bike lane. Instead slow down and let the driver make the turn.

Give someone a ride on your bike

You can't have two people on your bike unless it's designed to do so, like a cargo bike or bikes fitted with child seats. While having your friend ride on the handlebars or rack may be funny, it can come with a hefty fine if caught!

Get towed by a car

Not only is it extremely dangerous, it’s also illegal to hang on to a car to accelerate when riding your bike.

Are There Different Laws for Different Bikes?

We've covered a few Colorado bike laws on what you can and cannot do as a cyclist, but did you know that there are different laws for different types of bikes and biking?

For example, when road biking you must share the road and obey all traffic laws. You must also ride in the direction of traffic and on the shoulder or on the far-right side. However, when path riding, there are other rules such as respecting trails and not trespassing on private land. Leaving animals alone in their natural habitat and respecting the trails as they are (i.e. not making new paths).

A rule that applies to both road biking and path biking—yield appropriately, whether that means to pedestrians or fellow bikers.

Motorized bikes and electric bikes also have special rules in addition to the ones already listed. In Colorado, if a motorized bike shares the road with a regular bike, it must also allow at least three feet between the widest point of the vehicle and the widest point of the cyclist.

In most Colorado cities, electric bikes are not permitted to use the electric assist when riding on paved paths. However, the local governments have complete control over these regulations, and it does change from city to city. The rules for city and county trails regarding e-Bikes also vary.

What Happens if You Don't Follow Colorado Bike Laws?

Bicyclists who violate traffic laws are subject to the same penalties as drivers of motor vehicles, except the rider does not obtain penalty points against their driver’s license.

This means if a bicyclist is caught not using hand signals to indicate turns or stopping, or if their bike is not properly marked with a rear red reflector or front headlight, then they can get a ticket and be forced to pay a fine.

How to Safely Ride Your Bike in Colorado

Here are a few bike safety tips when riding your bike on the road.

  1. Wear a helmet

  2. Wear bright clothing

  3. Stay alert

  4. Be predictable

  5. Watch for parked doors opening

  6. Look for pedestrians

  7. Stay in your lane

  8. Stop at stop signs and lights

  9. Use hand signals

  10. Obey traffic signs

What to Do if you get in a Bicycle Accident

Safety comes first when cycling through Colorado cities, but no matter how conscious you are of safety, there’s always a chance of being a victim of an auto accident.

Knowing what to do if you're involved in an accident could make a difference in your well-being and your legal rights. It's important to assess yourself and ensure you aren't injured. If you can, move out of the road to avoid another accident. After ensuring your safety, call the police and steer clear of the motorist. Even if you obtained minor injuries, you would want to seek immediate medical attention to document injuries and get a written evaluation.

If you have been injured at no fault of your own while abiding by the laws of the road, hire an experienced Colorado attorney to represent you to get the justice you deserve.

At Anderson Hemmat, we pride ourselves on being one of the Best Colorado Personal Injury Law Firms in the state. Our passion and precision are what drive our success. By treating each case differently and working directly with clients in order to get every last detail, we are consistently able to achieve amazing results.

If you're a victim of a bicycle accident in Colorado, start your free case evaluation now!

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