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Colorado Bicycle Laws Regarding the Operation of Bicycles On Roads And Sidewalks

Colorado Bicycle Laws

Set forth below is a compilation of Colorado Statutes related to the riding and operation of bicycles on roads and sidewalks in Colorado.  The main emphasis of these laws is that bicycles shall have the same rights and obligations as any other vehicle on the road.  Certain special rules apply to bicycles and motorized vehicles, but both must follow the rules of the road as defined by Colorado statutes. 

§ 42-4-1412. Operation of bicycles and other human-powered vehicles

(1) Every person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this article, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions which by their nature can have no application. Said riders shall comply with the rules set forth in this section and section 42-4-221, and, when using streets and highways within incorporated cities and towns, shall be subject to local ordinances regulating the operation of bicycles and electrical assisted bicycles as provided in section 42-4-111.

 

(2) It is the intent of the general assembly that nothing contained in House Bill No. 1246, enacted at the second regular session of the fifty-sixth general assembly, shall in any way be construed to modify or increase the duty of the department of transportation or any political subdivision to sign or maintain highways or sidewalks or to affect or increase the liability of the state of Colorado or any political subdivision under the “Colorado Governmental Immunity Act”, article 10 of title 24, C.R.S.

(3) No bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed or equipped.

(4) No person riding upon any bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle shall attach the same or himself or herself to any motor vehicle upon a roadway.

(5)(a) Any person operating a bicycle or an electrical assisted bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic shall ride in the right-hand lane, subject to the following conditions:

(I) If the right-hand lane then available for traffic is wide enough to be safely shared with overtaking vehicles, a bicyclist shall ride far enough to the right as judged safe by the bicyclist to facilitate the movement of such overtaking vehicles unless other conditions make it unsafe to do so.

(II) A bicyclist may use a lane other than the right-hand lane when:

(A) Preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private roadway or driveway;

(B) Overtaking a slower vehicle; or

(C) Taking reasonably necessary precautions to avoid hazards or road conditions.

(III) Upon approaching an intersection where right turns are permitted and there is a dedicated right-turn lane, a bicyclist may ride on the left-hand portion of the dedicated right-turn lane even if the bicyclist does not intend to turn right.

(b) A bicyclist shall not be expected or required to:

(I) Ride over or through hazards at the edge of a roadway, including but not limited to fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or narrow lanes; or

(II) Ride without a reasonable safety margin on the right-hand side of the roadway.

(c) A person operating a bicycle or an electrical assisted bicycle upon a one-way roadway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near to the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as judged safe by the bicyclist, subject to the following conditions:

(I) If the left-hand lane then available for traffic is wide enough to be safely shared with overtaking vehicles, a bicyclist shall ride far enough to the left as judged safe by the bicyclist to facilitate the movement of such overtaking vehicles unless other conditions make it unsafe to do so.

(II) A bicyclist shall not be expected or required to:

(A) Ride over or through hazards at the edge of a roadway, including but not limited to fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or narrow lanes; or

(B) Ride without a reasonable safety margin on the left-hand side of the roadway.

(6)(a) Persons riding bicycles or electrical assisted bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

(b) Persons riding bicycles or electrical assisted bicycles two abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane.

(7) A person operating a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle shall keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.

(8)(a) A person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle intending to turn left shall follow a course described in sections 42-4-901(1), 42-4-903, and 42-4-1007 or may make a left turn in the manner prescribed in paragraph (b) of this subsection (8).

(b) A person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle intending to turn left shall approach the turn as closely as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. After proceeding across the intersecting roadway to the far corner of the curb or intersection of the roadway edges, the bicyclist shall stop, as much as practicable, out of the way of traffic. After stopping, the bicyclist shall yield to any traffic proceeding in either direction along the roadway that the bicyclist had been using. After yielding and complying with any official traffic control device or police officer regulating traffic on the highway along which the bicyclist intends to proceed, the bicyclist may proceed in the new direction.

(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subsection (8), the transportation commission and local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may cause official traffic control devices to be placed on roadways and thereby require and direct that a specific course be traveled.

(9)(a) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection (9), every person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle shall signal the intention to turn or stop in accordance with section 42-4-903; except that a person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle may signal a right turn with the right arm extended horizontally.

(b) A signal of intention to turn right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle before turning and shall be given while the bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle is stopped waiting to turn. A signal by hand and arm need not be given continuously if the hand is needed in the control or operation of the bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle.

(10)(a) A person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle upon and along a sidewalk or pathway or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian. A person riding a bicycle in a crosswalk shall do so in a manner that is safe for pedestrians.

(b) A person shall not ride a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle upon and along a sidewalk or pathway or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk where such use of bicycles or electrical assisted bicycles is prohibited by official traffic control devices or local ordinances. A person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle shall dismount before entering any crosswalk where required by official traffic control devices or local ordinances.

(c) A person riding or walking a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle upon and along a sidewalk or pathway or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances, including, but not limited to, the rights and duties granted and required by section 42-4-802.\

(d) Deleted by Laws 2005, Ch. 301, § 1, eff. July 1, 2005.

(11)(a) A person may park a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle on a sidewalk unless prohibited or restricted by an official traffic control device or local ordinance.

(b) A bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle parked on a sidewalk shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of pedestrian or other traffic.

(c) A bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle may be parked on the road at any angle to the curb or edge of the road at any location where parking is allowed.

(d) A bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle may be parked on the road abreast of another such bicycle or bicycles near the side of the road or any location where parking is allowed in such a manner as does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

(e) In all other respects, bicycles or electrical assisted bicycles parked anywhere on a highway shall conform to the provisions of part 12 of this article regulating the parking of vehicles.

(12)(a) Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense; except that section 42-2-127 shall not apply.

(b) Any person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle who violates any provision of this article other than this section which is applicable to such a vehicle and for which a penalty is specified shall be subject to the same specified penalty as any other vehicle; except that section 42-2-127 shall not apply.

(13) Upon request, the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction shall complete a report concerning an injury or death incident that involves a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle on the roadways of the state, even if such accident does not involve a motor vehicle.

(14) Except as authorized by section 42-4-111, the rider of an electrical assisted bicycle shall not use the electrical motor on a bike or pedestrian path.

Added by Laws 1994, S.B.94-1, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1995. Amended by Laws 2005, Ch. 301, § 1, eff. July 1, 2005; Laws 2009, Ch. 239, § 6, eff. Aug. 5, 2009; Laws 2009, Ch. 281, §§ 61, 62, eff. Oct. 1, 2009; Laws 2009, Ch. 369, § 139, eff. Oct. 1, 2009.

HISTORICAL AND STATUTORY NOTES

2004 Main Volume

Laws 1994, S.B.94-1, § 102, provides:

“Effective date–applicability. This act shall take effect January 1, 1995, and shall apply to offenses committed on or after said date.
2011 Electronic Update

Laws 2005, Ch. 301, § 1, rewrote subpar. (6)(a)(I), which previously read:

 

“When there is no motor vehicle traffic approaching from the rear within a distance of three hundred feet and the sight distance on the roadway at the time and place and under the conditions then existing is a minimum of three hundred feet to the front and to the rear of the bicyclists; or”;

in par. (9)(a), added “except that a person riding a bicycle may signal a right turn with the right arm extended horizontally”; in pars. (10)(a) and (10)(b), in the first sentences, inserted “or pathway”, and added the second sentences; in par. (10)(c), inserted “or pathway” and added “, including, but not limited to, the rights and duties granted and required by section 42-4-802”; deleted par. (10)(d), which read:

“A person riding a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk shall dismount before entering any roadway and, when crossing any such roadway, shall observe all the rules and regulations applicable to pedestrians.”;

and added subsec. (13).

Laws 2005, Ch. 301, § 3, provides:

“Effective date–applicability. This act shall take effect July 1, 2005, and shall apply to offenses committed on or after said date.”

 

Laws 2009, Ch. 239, § 6, repealed and reenacted subsecs. (5) and (6), which previously read:

 

“(5) Any person riding a bicycle shall ride in the right-hand lane. When being overtaken by another vehicle, such person shall ride as close to the right-hand side as practicable. Where a paved shoulder suitable for bicycle riding is present, persons operating bicycles shall ride on the paved shoulder. These provisions shall apply, except under any of the following situations:

“(a) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;

“(b) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;

“(c) When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions, including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, or surface hazards.”

“(6)(a) Persons operating bicycles on roadways shall ride single file; except that riding no more than two abreast is permitted in the following circumstances:

“(I) When riding two abreast will not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic; or

“(II) When riding on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

“(b) Persons riding two abreast shall ride within a single lane.”

Laws 2009, Ch. 239, § 8(2), provides:

“(2) The provisions of this act shall apply to offenses committed on or after the applicable effective date of this act.”

 

§ 42-4-1002. Passing oncoming vehicles

(1) Drivers of vehicles proceeding in opposite directions shall pass each other to the right, and, upon roadways having width for not more than one lane of traffic in each direction, each driver shall give to the other at least one-half of the main-traveled portion of the roadway as nearly as possible.

 

(2) A driver shall not pass a bicyclist moving in the same direction and in the same lane when there is oncoming traffic unless the driver can simultaneously:

 

(a) Allow oncoming vehicles at least one-half of the main-traveled portion of the roadway in accordance with subsection (1) of this section; and

 

(b) Allow the bicyclist at least a three-foot separation between the right side of the driver’s vehicle, including all mirrors or other projections, and the left side of the bicyclist at all times.

 

(3) Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class A traffic infraction.

 

 

§ 42-4-1003. Overtaking a vehicle on the left

 

(1) The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to the limitations, exceptions, and special rules stated in this section and sections 42-4-1004 to 42-4-1008:

 

(a) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left of the vehicle at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.

 

(b) The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction shall allow the bicyclist at least a three-foot separation between the right side of the driver’s vehicle, including all mirrors or other projections, and the left side of the bicyclist at all times.

 

(c) Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of the driver’s vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

 

(2) Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class A traffic infraction.

 

 

§ 42-4-1004. When overtaking on the right is permitted

 

(1) The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions:

 

(a) When the vehicle overtaken is making or giving indication of making a left turn;

 

(b) Upon a street or highway with unobstructed pavement not occupied by parked vehicles and marked for two or more lanes of moving vehicles in each direction; or

 

(c) Upon a one-way street or upon any roadway on which traffic is restricted to one direction of movement where the roadway is free from obstructions and marked for two or more lanes of moving vehicles.

 

(1.5) The driver of a motor vehicle upon a one-way roadway with two or more marked traffic lanes, when overtaking a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction and riding on the left-hand side of the road, shall allow the bicyclist at least a three-foot separation between the left side of the driver’s vehicle, including all mirrors or other projections, and the right side of the bicyclist at all times.

 

(2) The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety. In no event shall such movement be made by driving off the pavement or main-traveled portion of the roadway.

 

(3) Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class A traffic infraction.

 

§ 42-4-1005. Limitations on overtaking on the left

 

(1) No vehicle shall be driven to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless authorized by the provisions of this article and unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completed without interfering with the operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction or any vehicle overtaken. In every event the overtaking vehicle must return to an authorized lane of travel as soon as practicable and, in the event the passing movement involves the use of a lane authorized for vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, before coming within two hundred feet of any approaching vehicle.

 

(2) No vehicle shall be driven on the left side of the roadway under the following conditions:

 

(a) When approaching or upon the crest of a grade or a curve in the highway where the driver’s view is obstructed within such distance as to create a hazard in the event another vehicle might approach from the opposite direction;

 

(b) When approaching within one hundred feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing; or

 

(c) When the view is obstructed upon approaching within one hundred feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.

 

(3) The department of transportation and local authorities are authorized to determine those portions of any highway under their respective jurisdictions where overtaking and passing or driving on the left side of the roadway would be especially hazardous and may by appropriate signs or markings on the roadway indicate the beginning and end of such zones. Where such signs or markings are in place to define a no-passing zone and such signs or markings are clearly visible to an ordinarily observant person, no driver shall drive on the left side of the roadway within such no-passing zone or on the left side of any pavement striping designed to mark such no-passing zone throughout its length.

 

(4) The provisions of this section shall not apply:

 

(a) Upon a one-way roadway;

 

(b) Under the conditions described in section 42-4-1001(1)(b);

 

(c) To the driver of a vehicle turning left into or from an alley, private road, or driveway when such movement can be made in safety and without interfering with, impeding, or endangering other traffic lawfully using the highway; or

 

(d) To the driver of a vehicle passing a bicyclist moving the same direction and in the same lane when such movement can be made in safety and without interfering with, impeding, or endangering other traffic lawfully using the highway.

 

(5) Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class A traffic infraction.

 

CREDIT(S)

Added by Laws 1994, S.B.94-1, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1995. Amended by Laws 2009, Ch. 239, § 4, eff. Aug. 5, 2009.

 

§ 42-4-1008.5. Crowding or threatening bicyclist

 

(1) The driver of a motor vehicle shall not, in a careless and imprudent manner, drive the vehicle unnecessarily close to, toward, or near a bicyclist.

 

(2) Any person who violates subsection (1) of this section commits careless driving as described in section 42-4-1402.

Added by Laws 2009, Ch. 239, § 5, eff. Aug. 5, 2009.

 

 

§ 42-4-221. Bicycle and personal mobility device equipment

 

(1) No other provision of this part 2 and no provision of part 3 of this article shall apply to a bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD or to equipment for use on a bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD except those provisions in this article made specifically applicable to such a vehicle.

 

(2) Every bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD in use at the times described in section 42-4-204 shall be equipped with a lamp on the front emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front.

 

(3) Every bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD shall be equipped with a red reflector of a type approved by the department, which shall be visible for six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.

 

(4) Every bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD when in use at the times described in section 42-4-204 shall be equipped with reflective material of sufficient size and reflectivity to be visible from both sides for six hundred feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle or, in lieu of such reflective material, with a lighted lamp visible from both sides from a distance of at least five hundred feet.

 

(5) A bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by subsections (2) to (4) of this section.

 

(6) A bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle shall not be equipped with, nor shall any person use upon a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle, any siren or whistle.

 

(7) Every bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle shall be equipped with a brake or brakes that will enable its rider to stop the bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle within twenty-five feet from a speed of ten miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.

 

(8) A person engaged in the business of selling bicycles or electrical assisted bicycles at retail shall not sell any bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle unless the bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle has an identifying number permanently stamped or cast on its frame.

 

(9) Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class B traffic infraction.

 

CREDIT(S)

Added by Laws 1994, S.B.94-1, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1995. Amended by Laws 2009, Ch. 281, § 45, eff. Oct. 1, 2009.

§ 42-4-1401. Reckless driving–penalty

 

(1) A person who drives a motor vehicle, bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or low-power scooter in such a manner as to indicate either a wanton or a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. A person convicted of reckless driving of a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle shall not be subject to the provisions of section 42-2-127.

 

(2) Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense. Upon a second or subsequent conviction, such person shall be punished by a fine of not less than fifty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than ten days nor more than six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
Added by Laws 1994, S.B.94-1, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1995. Amended by Laws 2009, Ch. 281, § 57, eff. Oct. 1, 2009.

 

 

§ 42-4-1402. Careless driving–penalty

 

(1) A person who drives a motor vehicle, bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or low-power scooter in a careless and imprudent manner, without due regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and use of the streets and highways and all other attendant circumstances, is guilty of careless driving. A person convicted of careless driving of a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle shall not be subject to the provisions of section 42-2-127.

 

(2)(a) Except as otherwise provided in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this subsection (2), any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense.

 

(b) If the person’s actions are the proximate cause of bodily injury to another, such person commits a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense.

 

(c) If the person’s actions are the proximate cause of death to another, such person commits a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense.
Added by Laws 1994, S.B.94-1, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1995. Amended by Laws 2009, Ch. 281, § 58, eff. Oct. 1, 2009; Laws 2010, Ch. 243, § 2, eff. May 21, 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

§ 42-1-102. Definitions

 

As used in articles 1 to 4 of this title, unless the context otherwise requires:

 

(1) “Acceleration lane” means a speed-change lane, including tapered areas, for the purpose of enabling a vehicle entering a roadway to increase its speed to a rate at which it can more safely merge with through traffic.

 

(2) “Administrator” means the property tax administrator.

 

(3) “Alley” means a street or highway intended to provide access to the rear or side of lots or buildings in urban areas and not intended for the purpose of through vehicular traffic.

 

(4) “Apportioned registration” means registration of a vehicle pursuant to a reciprocal agreement under which the fees paid for registration of such vehicle are ultimately divided among the several jurisdictions in which the vehicle travels, based upon the number of miles traveled by the vehicle in each jurisdiction or upon some other agreed criterion.

 

(4.5) “Appurtenance” means a piece of equipment that is affixed or attached to a motor vehicle or trailer and is used for a specific purpose or task, including awnings, support hardware, and extractable equipment. “Appurtenance” does not include any item or equipment that is temporarily affixed or attached to the exterior of a motor vehicle for the purpose of transporting such vehicle.

 

(5) “Authorized agent” means the officer of a county or city and county designated by law to issue annual registrations of vehicles and to collect any registration or license fee imposed thereon by law.

 

(6) “Authorized emergency vehicle” means such vehicles of the fire department, police vehicles, ambulances, and other special-purpose vehicles as are publicly owned and operated by or for a governmental agency to protect and preserve life and property in accordance with state laws regulating emergency vehicles; said term also means the following if equipped and operated as emergency vehicles in the manner prescribed by state law:

 

(a) Privately owned vehicles as are designated by the state motor vehicle licensing agency necessary to the preservation of life and property; or

 

(b) Privately owned tow trucks approved by the public utilities commission to respond to vehicle emergencies.

 

(7) “Authorized service vehicle” means such highway or traffic maintenance vehicles as are publicly owned and operated on a highway by or for a governmental agency the function of which requires the use of service vehicle warning lights as prescribed by state law and such other vehicles having a public service function, including, but not limited to, public utility vehicles and tow trucks, as determined by the department of transportation under section 42-4-214(5). Some vehicles may be designated as both an authorized emergency vehicle and an authorized service vehicle.

 

(8) “Automobile” means any motor vehicle.

 

(8.5) “BAC” means either:

 

(a) A person’s blood alcohol content, expressed in grams of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of blood as shown by analysis of the person’s blood; or

 

(b) A person’s breath alcohol content, expressed in grams of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath as shown by analysis of the person’s breath.

 

(9) “Base jurisdiction” means the state, province, or other jurisdiction which receives, apportions, and remits to other jurisdictions moneys paid for registration of a vehicle pursuant to a reciprocal agreement governing registration of vehicles.

 

(10) “Bicycle” means a vehicle propelled by human power applied to pedals upon which a person may ride having two tandem wheels or two parallel wheels and one forward wheel, all of which are more than fourteen inches in diameter.

 

 

Photo: Some rights reserved by John Loo.