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Bicycle safety

The summer season is well under way, and it’s an appropriate time to discuss bicycle safety and Colorado’s bicycle laws. Whether you are an avid biker in training or simply enjoy the occasional ride, these laws and safety tips will be beneficial.For clarification purposes, a bicycle is defined as a human powered “vehicle” and even though it is not motorized, the rider is required to follow the same rules of the road as a car or “motor vehicle.” While riding your bicycle, you are required to ride in the same direction as cars, stop at stop signs, stop for red traffic lights, yield to pedestrians, etc. Simply put, it’s as if you are driving a car with the exception of needing a driver’s license.There are several specific provisions included in the law designed for bicycle safety. While riding on a bicycle, you cannot carry more passengers at one time than the number for which it was designed. It is illegal and extremely unsafe to attach yourself to a motor vehicle and be pulled about. Except when passing another vehicle, preparing to and turning left or avoiding a road hazard, bicycles are to be ridden in the right lane, and, when being “overtaken” or passed, are to ride as far to the right-hand side of the lane as possible. When a right shoulder is available, the shoulder should be used.Bicycle races are commonplace during the summer months, and drivers may encounter large groups of riders on a roadway. When riding with a group, single file is required unless there are no motor vehicles approaching from the rear within 300 feet and the bicycle riders can see to the front and rear for more than 300 feet. When single file is not required because visibility is more than 300 feet to the front and rear and there are no other cars in the area, then bicycles can ride two abreast or side by side. Of course, if a bike path is utilized, riding two abreast is completely fine and the rules of a roadway do not apply.As with driving a car, signaling is required with bicycle riders. A hand signal for a turn or stop needs to be given for 100 feet prior to the action. In many areas, there are local ordinances and laws prohibiting the riding of bicycles on sidewalks, and bicyclists should check with the local law enforcement agency in your area for guidance. The Colorado statutes provide pedestrians with the right-of-way on sidewalks when met by bicycles.Along with casual riding, oftentimes people use their bicycle for necessary transportation, which means some may be riding after dark. When you are out riding after sunset and prior to sunrise and when weather conditions are such to prevent you from being clearly visible at a distance of 1,000 feet, several lighting requirements are in place for your safety. Your bicycle is required to be equipped with a white light to the front, visible from 500 feet, and a rear red reflector, visible from 600 feet. Side visibility is addressed by requiring reflective material visible at 600 feet or a lighted lamp visible from 500 feet.As a reminder, when riding a bicycle, the same traffic laws governing motor vehicles are to be adhered to. If a violation occurs, you can be issued a citation for the illegal action (i.e.: stop sign, red traffic light, right of way violations etc.) however, no points are assessed against your driver’s license. Although not required by law, approved safety helmets are always recommended. The rules for bicyclists are intended to provide a safe riding environment for everyone. “Share the road” applies to both bicyclists and motorists!

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