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Safe Biking in Colorado

Posted in Blog on September 4, 2014

Unfortunately, the increased presence of bicycle riders on roads across the country has not eliminated accidents with motorists. According to a report released by The League of American Cyclists, the number of fatal bike/motorist accidents has actually risen over the last three years, with 40 percent of fatalities involving a bicyclist being hit by a motorist from behind.

Colorado has had its fair share of bicyclist accidents, with Denver Westward reporting that over 200 accidents occurred in the state by the middle of 2012. In one particularly horrific crash that gripped the local public, former Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cory Sarich was hit by a driver in a Ford F-350 truck while he was bicycling near his home. The driver had turned left in front of Sarich, and the hockey player was left with a serious head wound, five broken vertebra and road rash.

It is impossible to guarantee that you’ll never be in an accident while you’re bicycling, despite your best efforts. However, you can reduce the odds of a bike accident by following common safety guidelines, as laid out in Colorado state law.

Colorado’s Bicycling Laws

Colorado has a series of laws that bicyclists on the road must follow. Most of the applicable regulations are found under Colorado Statute 42-4-1412, and they are:

    • Ride your bicycle on bike lanes and paved shoulders when these areas are available and clear of hazards such as debris.
    • Obey the same traffic signs, signals and laws that all motorists are required to do.
    • Keep your bicycle on the right side of the road and don’t ride against the traffic flow.
    • Don’t ride more than two bicyclists side-by-side, and be prepared to single file if riding side-by-side is going to impede traffic flow. Always ride single file on curving roads without shoulders or bike lanes available.
    • Use hand signals so nearby motorists are aware of what you’re planning to do. Hand signals are used for slowing down, stopping and indicating right or left turns.
    • Use taillights, reflectors and highlights at night so you’re always visible to motorists in dark conditions.
    • Never have more people on your bicycle than what it is designed to carry. If you have a two-seater, for instance, you can have yourself and another passenger. A single-person bike, however, should not have a second person on it.

Be Ready to Think Ahead

Colorado law doesn’t specifically state a bicyclist must think ahead, but the regulations do call for a bike rider to take care for his or her own safety. For example, the statute contains a provision that bans a bicyclist from darting off the sidewalk and into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Essentially, bike riders need to plan their next move based on the surroundings to ensure their well-being. Actions such as watching the movements of nearby vehicles, giving more space to a parked car on the door side, and keeping an eye out for potholes or road debris can help you avoid an accident.

Whether you ride your bike for exercise, leisure or commuting purposes, your first line of defense against an accident is your own behavior. Always use common sense and follow both Colorado laws and common biking procedures to keep yourself safe while you’re on your bike. Learn more at: www.zanerhardenlaw.com.

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