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Colorado Bike Laws

COLORADO BICYCLE LAWS

It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Colorado. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here).

For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Brian Weiss directly.

Right to the Road

  • Colorado bicyclists generally have the same rights, and same duties, as drivers of motor vehicles.  However, some areas that have approve of “safety stop” laws have specials rules that give cyclists the right  to not have to come to a complete stop at stop signs or stop signs.

Prohibitions

  • Impeding  the normal movement of traffic with a bicycle is prohibited.
  • Attaching or holding on to motor vehicles on a roadway while biking is not permitted.
  • Bicycles or E-bicycles may only carry the number of persons for which it is designed or equipped.
  • Riding a bicycle with no hands is not allowed in Colorado.

Helmets

  • There is no statewide requirement for helmet use in Colorado; however, we recommend using a helmet when riding a bike, motorcycle, snowboard, or skis.

Alcohol

  • Colorado’s DUI  (driving under the influence)  and DWAI (driving while ability impaired) statutes apply to bicyclists who are intoxicated by alcohol or drugs which includes legal drugs like marijuana.  

Where to Ride

  • Bicycles are to ride as close as practicable and safe to the right side of the roadway when riding below the posted speed limit except when overtaking another bicyclist or slower vehicle, when preparing to make a left turn, when necessary to avoid hazards or road conditions, or when riding in a substandard width lane.
  • On one-way roads bicyclists may ride are near the left hand side of the roadway as is practicable.

Sidewalks

  • Sidewalk riding is permitted in many places but restricted in bigger cities like in Denver and in many areas of Boulder unless the sidewalk is part of a designated bicycle path.  Where bicyclists are permitted to ride on a sidewalk, they must yield the right of way to pedestrians and must give an audible signal before passing.

Motor Vehicle Doors

  • No person may open the door of a motor vehicle on the side of moving traffic unless it is safe to do so.

Bike Lanes, Bike Paths and Multi-Use Paths

  • Colorado bicyclists are permitted but are not required to ride in or upon bike lanes or paths.

Left turns

  • To turn left bicyclists may perform a “box turn” or use the left turn lane.
  • A left turning bicyclist must yield the right of way over a driver intending to proceed straight at an intersection.

Stop Signs and Traffic Control Devices

  • Bicyclists are required to come to a full and complete stop at all stop signs and traffic lights displaying a red signal.  The exception is when a City or County has adopted the “safety stop” legislation or has an ordinance that allows a bike rider to go through a stop sign or red light when there is no vehicle or pedestrian traffic present.

Signaling

  • Bicyclists must use hand/arm signals when turning and stopping.

Drivers Overtaking Bicyclists

  • Motor vehicle drivers must allow at least three (3) feet of space when passing a bicyclist.
  • A driver may not harass, throw objects, drive recklessly near or drive unnecessarily close to a bicyclist.  Where doing causes great bodily harm or death the driver shall be guilty of a felony.

Bicycles Passing on the Right

  • Bicyclists may pass motor vehicles on the right if it is reasonably safe to do so.

Group Riding

  • Bicyclists may not ride more than 2 abreast and may not impede the movement of motor vehicle traffic.
  • An exception to the 2 abreast law is for paths or parts or roadways that are set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

Equipment

  • Every bicycle must equipped with a white front facing headlight, and a red rear reflector or light, visible from at least 500 feet when used at nighttime.
  • Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will adequately control movement of and stop and hold such bicycle.

Electric Assist Bikes

  • Colorado has implemented a three class system for electric assist bikes (“e-bikes”).  An e-bike must have operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts. A Class 1 e-bike is one “that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 mph.” A Class 2 e-bike is one that does not necessarily require the rider to pedal to activate the motor. Rather the motor may be used exclusively to power the bike, but ceases when the bike hits 20 mph. A Class 3 e-bike, like a Class 1 bike, provides assistance only when the rider pedals, but ceases once it hits 28 miles per hour.
  • Generally, bicyclists may use a Class 1 e-bikes in the same matter as traditional bicycles.  A rider must be at least 16 years of age to ride a Class 3 e-bike.

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