Bicycle Accidents in Colorado
Colorado is home to over 30,000 miles of bike trails. From 400 miles of paved lanes in Denver to 6800 miles of single track in the mountains, you are never far from a bike path, or bicyclist, here. Unfortunately, the robust biking activity in our state equals an increased risk for bicycle accidents. There were 22 fatal bicycle accidents in 2018.
Colorado’s Rules of the Road
It is important to remember that in Colorado, bikers are subject to the same rules of the road as motorists and can be ticketed for infractions. When you bike, reduce your risk of accidents (and liability) by following traffic laws. Stop for intersections, ride with the flow of traffic, and use lights at night. Perhaps the most important Colorado law regarding biking pertains to motorists: Motorists must give bicyclists 3 feet of space when passing.
Many rules governing bicycling are specific to city and county, but there are some state-wide prohibitions all bicyclists should know:
- A bicycle may not impede traffic.
- A bicyclist may not hold on to a motor vehicle on a roadway.
- A bicycle may only carry the number of persons for which it is designed.
- Riding a bicycle with no hands is illegal in Colorado.
TWO ABREAST OR SINGLE FILE?
In Colorado, bicyclists may ride two abreast (no more) if doing so does not impede traffic. Otherwise, they must ride single file to allow vehicles to pass. Bicyclists should ride on the shoulder or the right side of the road unless:
- The bicyclist feels that the shoulder or right side of the road is unsafe
- The bicyclist is preparing to make a left turn (the bicyclist must still yield to oncoming traffic)
- The bicyclist is overtaking a slower moving vehicle (bicycles may also pass on the right if it is safe to do so)
- The bicyclist is riding on a one-way street (bicyclist may ride on the left if desired)
Disturbing Bicycle Accident Statistics
Like a pedestrian or motorcyclist, a bicyclist who is hit by a car is at an extreme physical disadvantage. In Colorado, bicycle fatalities have been increasing steadily since 2003, and injuries are common. One Boulder study showed that while bicyclists were involved in only 6% of the city’s crashes between 2015 and 2017, these accidents represented almost 40% of the city’s severe crashes during that time. Shamefully, because bikes cause minimal damage to cars and don’t need to be towed, it is common for motorists to flee the scene. For this reason, most bike accidents are unreported.
What You Should Do After a Biking Accident
If you are hit by a car while biking, you may think you have no recourse. However, there may be traffic camera footage that can help you, or cell phone data that can prove the motorist was texting. It is important to call an experienced bicycle accident lawyer soon after your accident to obtain this evidence. Another good reason to call? It is a lawyer’s job to protect you and secure fair compensation from any involved insurance companies. Insurers, to minimize their costs, will often pressure you to settle before your treatment is complete and your damages are fully known.
Of course, bicycle accidents do not only occur on streets. On trails, bicyclists should yield to pedestrians and other non-motorized trial users. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones traveling uphill. Most multi-use trails have a 15 mph speed limit, which bicyclists must obey. Bicyclists must also give an audible warning before passing.
Depending on the municipality, bicyclists may legally ride on sidewalks. You should always check the rules for your city or county before riding on a sidewalk. Be courteous and safe. Bicyclists can be liable if unsafe (or illegal) riding causes injuries.
E-Bike Laws in Colorado
THE RULES TEND TO BE LOCAL AND VARIED
Rules governing the operation of ebikes, and all electric-assist vehicles, are new and evolving like e-vehicles themselves. Rules tend to be local and varied. In general, electric-assist bikes are allowed on roads and have the same rights as non-electric bicycles throughout Colorado. However, ebikes are not permitted to use the electric-assist feature when traveling on paved bike/pedestrian paths (except in Boulder, Superior, Breckenridge, and Vail).
ARE E-BIKES ALLOWED ON MOUNTAIN TRAILS?
On mountain bike trails, electric-assist bikes are generally allowed in the Colorado State Parks that allow mountain biking. But on federal lands, eBikes may only travel on motorized vehicle trails. Rules can vary between parks. Always check the rules of the trail.
Is Biking Still Worth the Risk?
While as Denver personal injury lawyers we are naturally inclined to view bicycling from a safety perspective, the truth is there are risks associated with any form of travel. Research shows that, considering the high number of bicycle trips taken throughout Colorado every year, the health benefits of biking compared to driving far outweigh the relative risks (Denver Public Works 2016).
So enjoy biking! We do.
How an Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorney Can Help You
If you get hurt, call an experienced bicycle accident lawyer right away. Colorado bike laws can be very local, specific, and take legal skill to navigate. At Shafner Law, we have successfully obtained compensation for clients who were struck while riding bicycles and, recently, an electric scooter. We understand the complexities these accidents can present, and we will provide a fair and honest evaluation of your case.
For a free consultation, call Shafner Law at (303) 796-0555 or fill out the Case Form below.
Additional Bike Accident Resources