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).
This is a general overview of Colorado’s bicycle laws. To see them in their completion, please visit Colorado’s Department of Transportation. For any questions about this State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact Colorado’s Bike Law Attorney Brian Weiss directly.
Right to the Road
Bicycles are defined as vehicles and generally have all of the same rights and duties of motor vehicle drivers.
Where to Ride
- When riding below the speed limit, bicyclists are required to ride as close to the right of the roadway as practicable and safe, except when overtaking vehicles, avoiding hazards, or when riding in a substandard width lane.
- Bicyclists may ride as near to the left hand side of the road as practicable on one-way roads.
- Sidewalk riding is generally permissible, however, bicyclists must yield to the right-of-way to pedestrians. Check local ordinances for variations on this rule.
How to Ride
- Bicyclists shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of the roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. When riding two abreast, bicyclists shall not impede the movement of motor vehicle traffic.
- Bicyclists turning left may perform a box turn or use the left turn lane.
- Bicyclists are required to slow down and come to a complete stop at all stop signs and traffic lights signaling red. Check local ordinances for variations on this rule, such as the safety stop, that allows a bicyclist to go through a stop sign or red light when there is no vehicle or pedestrian traffic present.
- Bicyclists must signal during not less than the last 100 feet when turning or coming to a stop, unless the hand is needed to maintain control of the bicycle.
Bicyclists Overtaking Cars
Bicyclists on roadways must exercise due care when passing a standing vehicle or one preceding the same direction.
Car Overtaking Bicyclists
Motor vehicle drivers are required to maintain a distance of at least three feet when passing bicyclists.
- At night, a bicycle must be equipped with a front white headlight, visible from at least 500 feet away and a rear red reflector, visible from at least 600 feet away.
- Every bicycle must have brakes which enable the bicyclist to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement within twenty-five feet from a speed of ten miles per hour.
- Clinging to motor vehicles while bicycling is not permitted.
- A bicycle may not carry more than the number of persons for which it is designed or equipped.
- Bicyclists may not use any siren or whistle.
- Bicycles must be operated with at least one hand on the handlebars.
Colorado’s DUI and DWAI statutes apply to bicyclists as bicycles are defined as vehicles.
Vulnerable Road User (VRU)
- Bicyclists operating on a roadway or crosswalk are defined as vulnerable road users.
- Motor vehicle drivers who operate in a careless and imprudent manner and their actions are the proximate cause of serious bodily injury or death to a vulnerable road user commit the offense of “Infliction of Serious Bodily Injury to a Vulnerable Road User”, which is a class 1 traffic misdemeanor.
Motorist Treatment of Bicyclists
Any person who knowingly projects any object or substance at or against a bicyclist commits a class 2 misdemeanor.