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Tips for Bicycle Safety in Colorado

by  on  Car & Motor Vehicle Accidents

Coloradans are well-known cycling enthusiasts, and it is no secret that Denver is a bicycle-friendly town. State legislators have even enacted laws to make them more bike-friendly. As summer approaches, and there are even more cyclists on the road, it is more important than ever to keep safety in mind. Many crashes can be avoided if motorists and cyclists follow the rules of the road and watch out for each other. From wearing a properly fitted helmet, to driving defensively and predictably, here are some tips for bicycle safety.    

Colorado’s Bicycle Laws

Knowing the law is a good place to start when it comes to staying safe on the road. 

Bicyclists largely have the same rights and responsibilities as car drivers and others under Colorado law. State and local laws are designed to keep everyone safe, including by ensuring that all types of vehicles share the road.

Pass Protection 

Passing cars pose one of the single biggest threats to bicyclists and unsafe passes often have tragic consequences.

A car driver seeking to pass a bicycle rider moving in the same direction is required to allow at least three feet between the vehicle’s right side and the bicycle to avoid inadvertent bumping. 

Bicyclists, on the other hand, are generally obligated to stay in the far right lane at all times. They can leave that lane only when making a left turn, passing a slower vehicle or moving to avoid a hazard.

Helmet & Equipment Requirements

Wearing a bike helmet helps prevent major injuries due to a possible fall, but ensuring a proper fit is vitally important in order to be fully protected. Safety aside, Colorado law doesn’t actually require a helmet. It is one of very few states where wearing a helmet while riding a bike remains entirely voluntary. 

However, even though a helmet may not be mandatory, it doesn’t mean bicyclists who are not wearing helmets during an accident have a harder time obtaining compensation from those responsible. State law generally requires people to make reasonable efforts to protect themselves. A bicyclist who is not wearing a helmet may be considered to have assumed the risk of a potential head injury.

Bicyclists are required to have a front headlight and a rear reflector light while riding at night time. These lights must be visible within 500 and 600 feet away respectively. They are also not allowed to use any type of siren or whistle.

Bicycle Accidents – Who is Financially Responsible?

Accidents can happen, even for the most cautious bicycle riders. When crashes occur, it is important to understand that you do not need to go it alone. 

Colorado law allows anyone injured in an accident to seek compensation from those responsible for the crash, whether it is a negligent driver (or his or her employer), a shoddy bike manufacturer or local authorities who leave riding surfaces in hazardous condition. 

The money damages in bicycle accident cases are generally designed to put an injured person back in the financial position that he or she was in before that collision happened. That includes money for doctors bills, missed wages, and any reduction in long-term earning capacity. In the tragic situation in which a person is killed in a bicycle accident, his or her loved ones have the right to sue for wrongful death.

A seasoned attorney can help you identify those responsible for the accident and maximize your compensation. If you choose to pursue a personal injury claim, the lawyer will thoroughly investigate the crash, track down witnesses, and obtain police reports and other evidence. The attorney will also gather all of the necessary medical evidence to show the full impact of your injuries.

Tips to Avoid Bike Crashes

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are two main types of crashes: falls, which are the most common; and the ones with cars, which are generally more serious. Regardless of the nature of the crash, prevention is key. There are things you can do to decrease your risk of a crash:

  • Be prepared before heading out by riding a bike that works and that fits you, wearing equipment to protect you and make you visible to others, carrying items in a backpack or strapped to the back of a bike, and tuck and tie your shoe laces and pant legs;
  • Drive defensively by being focused and alert to the traffic around you, anticipating what others may do before they do it, driving with the flow, assuming the other person doesn’t see you, looking ahead for hazards or situations to avoid, and no texting or listening to music;
  • Drive predictably by riding where you are expected to be seen, traveling in the same direction as traffic, signaling and looking over your shoulder before changing lane position or turning, and avoiding or minimizing sidewalk riding; and
  • Improve your riding skills by taking an on-bike class through your school, recreation department, local bike shop or bike advocacy group.

Confidence in traffic comes with learning how to navigate and communicate with other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, as well as educating yourself on the applicable rules of the road.  Happy cycling!

If the worst happens and you or a loved one has been injured in a bike accident, we welcome you to contact us, by email or phone at 303- 333-8000 to schedule a free consultation.