Nationwide, there were more than 38,000 injuries and 677 deaths caused by bicycle-vehicle accidents in 2011, according to the NHTSA. Perhaps what’s most sad about this statistic is that many of these accidents could have been prevented if the parties involved had a greater awareness of bicycle safety.
Here in Colorado, tragedies arising from a lack of knowledge of local bike laws are just as common as the rest of the country. In fact, in the past few years, the Denver Police Department has seen a dramatic increase in the number of vehicle-related bicycle and pedestrian accidents.
Tensions between road cyclists and drivers often run high. When each thinks they have the right to the road, confusion follows and accidents happen. So to provide clarity on who gets the right of way on the road and when, here are a few Colorado bicycle laws you should know.
First, it’s important to understand that bikers share all the privileges that drivers of other human-powered vehicles have, meaning if you are cycling you have the legal right to a place on the road, and car drivers wishing to pass you must do so safely and lawfully.
However, along with this right, bikers are also obligated to fulfill the responsibilities and duties that other vehicles must. Failure to comply with these road rules can result in a traffic citation:
- Ride on the right side of the road, never against traffic
- Ride on paved shoulders and bike lanes when present
- Ride no more than two-abreast and return to single-file if traffic is impeded or on curvy canyon roads
- Obey all traffic laws, signs, and signals
- Use hand signals to indicate left or right turns no less than 100 feet before the intended turn (left arm straight out for left and at a 90 degree angle for right)
- Use headlight and taillight reflectors at night
In addition to rights, cyclists must obey a number of restrictions according to Colorado bicycle laws. For instance, it is unlawful for one bicycle to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it was designed.
Also, similar to the rule that drivers are to have their hands in the 10 and 2 position on the steering wheel, cyclists must keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.
In the question of right away, cyclists should always yield to pedestrians, whether along a sidewalk, pathway, or through a crosswalk, and also make an audible signal before passing them.
If a cyclist fails to follow one or more of these laws, causing an accident with another vehicle, then they may be held at least partly liable for the injuries and damages that ensue.
We encourage both cyclists and drivers alike to learn more about Colorado bike safety law before going out on the road. And if you are involved in a collision with a bicyclist, pedestrian, or motorized vehicle of any kind, learn what to do following a bicycle accident.
It’s also highly recommended you schedule an appointment with a Colorado bicycle accident attorney like R. Mack Babcock to find out who is liable for damages and injuries in your case.