Passing laws: Colorado requires that in the event a motor vehicle passes a bicycle it shall leave a safe distance, not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle.
Helmet law: There is no state law in Colorado that requires the operator of a bicycle to wear a helmet. However, although not required by law it is strongly recommended.
Laws to Protect the Bicyclist: There are certain laws entitled “vulnerable user laws.” These laws, in essence, require the vehicle least at risk to yield to the vehicle most at risk. For example, a motor vehicle would have to yield to a bicycle and a bicycle would have to yield to a pedestrian. Colorado does not have any specific vulnerable laws, but has laws that protect the bicyclist.
Colorado law requires that:
- If a person knowingly projects any object at a bicyclist, they commit a class 2 misdemeanor;
- A person driving a motor vehicle who drives in a careless manner, drives the motor vehicle unnecessarily close to, toward, or near a bicyclist is guilty of the offense of careless driving, which is a class 2 misdemeanor. If the careless driving results in serious injury or death then it is considered a class 1 misdemeanor.
Distracted Driving Laws: As almost every bicyclist knows, distracted driving creates one of the most dangerous risks to a bicycle on a public road way. Every state has varying laws to attempt to reduce the amount of distracted driving that exist. Nonetheless, it still presents a serious problem.
In Colorado there have been laws passed to attempt to reduce distracted driving by punishing violators. Here is a summary of the present laws. There will be links at the end of this article to the specific laws in full detail.
1. A person under the age of 18 years is prohibited from using a wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle, this includes using the telephone to send, read or write texts; and
2. A person, regardless of age, may not use head phones while operating a motor
Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Colorado has very specific laws where a bicyclist is permitted to ride and where he/she is prohibited to ride. The general rule requires the bicyclist to be as close to the right hand edge of the road as possible. However, there are some important exceptions that I will outline below:
- When passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
- When preparing to take a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway; and
- When reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe hazards or road conditions.
Sidewalk Riding: The general rule in Colorado is that you are permitted to ride on sidewalks. However, there are certain rules and exceptions that must be followed. So you may ride on a sidewalk subject to the following:
- You must yield the right of way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian;
- You are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk or crosswalk where such use of bicycles is prohibited by official traffic-control devices; and
- You have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian
It is important to note that Colorado does not require that bicyclists use any lane or path other than a normal vehicular traffic lane. So if there is a sidewalk, the choice or road or sidewalk is yours to make.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: In Colorado, bicycles are defined as vehicles. Colorado’s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to vehicles and therefore applies to bicyclists as well.
Stop Sign Laws: In Colorado bicycles have to follow the same rules as motor vehicles regarding the requirement to come to a complete stop when directed to stop by traffic control devices and does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Important Resources and Links