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Warm Weather & Bicycles

Bicyclist - low.jpg

Warmer weather has returned, and so have bicycles on the sidewalks and streets.  This is particularly true near schools and parks, where young children frequently ride their bikes.

It is important to be more aware of our surroundings while driving in warmer weather as bicycles, particularly ridden by younger children, come out of nowhere.  Be aware of bicycles on sidewalks, driveways, and bicycles approaching intersections.  Young, inexperienced riders will often swerve out into traffic as they look over their shoulder to check for cars or other traffic. 

Young bicyclists, and the inexperienced bicyclists, can be startled by dogs or wildlife, and suddenly veer out into the lane of traffic. 

Colorado has many traffic laws regarding the operation of bicycles, including C.R.S. §42-4-1412, which was amended on May 3, 2018.  This law requires that bicyclists follow most of the traffic laws that regulate cars, trucks and other motorized vehicles, with some exceptions.

Bicyclists are required to ride as far to the right of the lane of traffic as safety permits.  C.R.S. §42-4-1412(5)(a).  

Bicyclists may use a lane other than the right-hand lane when preparing for a left turn at an intersection, or when turning into a private roadway or driveway.  C.R.S. §42-4-1412(5)(a)(II)(A).

When riding upon a road where there is a dedicated right-turn lane, and the bicyclist intends to go straight, the bicyclist may ride on the left-hand portion of the dedicated right-turn lane if the bicyclist does not intend to turn right.  C.R.S. §42-4-1412(5)(a)(III).

Bicyclists are allowed to ride two abreast, except when riding on paths or parts of roadways that are expressly set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, where the bicyclists can ride more than two abreast.  C.R.S. §42-4-1412(6)(a).  However, bicyclists cannot ride two abreast on a roadway laned for cars and other vehicular traffic when riding two abreast impedes the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.  C.R.S. §42-4-1412(6)(b).

Bicyclists are required to keep one hand on the handlebars at all times pursuant to C.R.S. §42-4-1412(7).  Bicyclists are required to signal all turns at least 100 feet before initiating the turn, with a left turn by putting the left hand straight out, and a right turn by raising the left hand, or extending the right hand straight out.  

C.R.S. §42-4-1412(10)(c) provides:

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 C.R.S. §42-4-802.

This means cars must yield to a person riding or walking a bicycle along a sidewalk, pathway, or in a crosswalk just as the car would yield to a pedestrian.

Interestingly, an intoxicated person riding a bicycle can be arrested for driving/riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but no points are assessed against that person’s driving record.  The same penalties, including requirements for alcohol classes and community service, along with fines can be imposed by the Court.

Bicyclists should also be aware that many towns, villages and municipalities have local ordinances prohibiting bicyclists from riding on sidewalks, particularly in congested or crowded downtown areas.  Often, there will be signs prohibiting riding bicycles in those areas.  Those signs can be posted on a pole, or streetlamp, or painted on the sidewalk, or both.

The important thing is to be much more aware during warmer weather, as bicycles travel much more quickly than pedestrians, and can come suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere.  Nobody wins when a car or other motorized vehicle hits a bicyclist, particularly the bicyclist who can suffer serious and permanent injuries, or even be killed.