Colorado Bicycle Laws

First and foremost, it must be understood that cyclists have an absolute right to use public roads and a responsibility to follow all rules and signs as if they were a motor vehicle. The Colorado Revised Statutes clearly state that each person riding a bicycle upon a roadway has all the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle. (C.R.S. 42-4-1412(1)). However,there are additional rules that cyclists are required to follow when riding on public roadways:

1. CYCLISTS MUST RIDE REASONABLY CLOSE TO THE RIGHT CURB. If riding below the posted speed limit, a cyclist is required to ride as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the road. (C.R.S. 42-4-1412(5)). Bicycles can also ride on the paved right shoulder when it is available. However, this statute recognizes five (5) exceptions or situations where a cyclist need not ride as close to the right hand curb or edge of the road as practicable:

  • When passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction
  • When preparing to turn left
  • When conditions make the right hand edge of the roadway unsafe or unreasonably unsafe for bicycle users, including, but not limited to:
    • Surface hazards (i.e., ruts in the pavement or potholes);
    • An uneven roadway surface
    • Drain openings
    • Debris
    • Parked or moving vehicles or bicycles
    • Pedestrians
    • Other obstacles; or
    • The lane is too narrow to permit a vehicle to safely overtake and pass a bicycle.
  • When operating a bicycle in a lane in which traffic is turning right, but the cyclist intends to proceed straight through the intersection; and
  • When riding on a one-way highway or street that has two (2) or more lanes. In this situation, the cyclist may also ride as close to the left curb or edge of the roadway as practicable.

2. RESTRICTIONS ON RIDING TWO (2) ABREAST. Cyclists can ride two (2) bicycles abreast, so long as they do not impede or disrupt the normal flow of traffic. (C.R.S. 42-4-1412(6)).

3. USE OF LIGHTS. If riding between sunset and sunrise, a cyclist must use lights. The law requires that a light system for bicycles must, at a minimum, include a white light that is visible from five hundred (500) feet to the front and a red reflector on the rear that is visible from all distances from one hundred (100) feet to six hundred (600) feet when directly in front of lawful low beam headlights. (C.R.S. 42-4-221)

4. USE OF HAND SIGNALS. A cyclist is required to signal to turn or stop for 100 feet. The hand signals are as follows: a left turn by extending his/her left hand and arm horizontally; a right turn by extending his/her left hand and arm upward, or by extending his/her right hand and arm horizontally; a stop or decrease in speed by extending his/her hand and arm downward. (C.R.S. 42-4-1412(9)).

5. HELMETS NOT REQUIRED AND CELL PHONES NOT PROHIBITED. As surprising as this is, we do get questions over these issues. There is no law that requires Colorado cyclists to wear helmets or prevents them from talking on cell phones while riding. Hopefully, most cyclists will view this as a common sense issue despite any formal laws in place.

6. CARS MUST GIVE THREE (3) FEET OF SPACE WHEN PASSING A BICYCLE. When a Motor Vehicle passes a bicycle, the vehicle must give the cyclist 3 feet of separation between the right side of the vehicle and this includes mirrors and trailers. Also, when a Motor Vehicle passes a bicycle, it must not go back to the right until it is safely clear of the bicycle. (C.R.S. 42-4-1003).

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. 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 amendment, L. 2005, p. 1353, §1, effective 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.

Colorado E-Bike Statue

* § 42-4-1412. Operation of bicycles and other human-powered vehicles [Effective 8/9/2017] 

(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 amendment, L. 2005, p. 1353, §1, effective 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)
(a)
(I) a person may ride a class 1 or class 2 electrical assisted bicycle on a
bike or pedestrian path where bicycles are authorized to travel.
(II) A local authority may prohibit the operation of a class 1 or class 2
electrical assisted bicycle on a bike or pedestrian path under its
jurisdiction.

(b) A person shall not ride a class 3 electrical assisted bicycle on a bike or
pedestrian path unless:
(I) The path is within a street or highway; or
(II) The local authority permits the operation of a class 3 electrical
assisted bicycle on a path under its jurisdiction.

(15)
(a) A person under sixteen years of age shall not ride a class 3 electrical assisted
bicycle upon any street, highway, or bike or pedestrian path; except that a
person under sixteen years of age may ride as a passenger on a class 3
electrical assisted bicycle that is designed to accommodate passengers.
(b) A person shall not operate or ride as a passenger on a class 3 electrical
assisted bicycle unless:
(I) Each person under eighteen years of age is wearing a protective
helmet of a type and design manufactured for use by operators of
bicycles;
(II) The protective helmet conforms to the design and specifications set
forth by the United States consumer product safety commission or
the American Society for Testing and Materials; and
(III) The protective helmet is secured properly on the person’s head with
a chin strap while the class 3 electrical assisted bicycle is in motion.

(c) A violation of subsection (15)(b) of this section does not constitute negligence
or negligence per se in the context of any civil personal injury claim or lawsuit
seeking damages.

Cite as C.R.S. § 42-4- 1412

(28.5) “Electrical assisted bicycle” means a vehicle having two or three wheels,
fully operable pedals, and an electric motor not exceeding seven hundred
fifty watts of power. Electrical assisted bicycles are further required to
conform to one of three classes as follows:
(a) “Class 1 electrical assisted bicycle” means an electrical assisted bicycle
equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is
pedaling and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a
speed of twenty miles per hour.
(b) “Class 2 electrical assisted bicycle” means an electrical assisted bicycle
equipped with a motor that provides assistance regardless of whether the
rider is pedaling but ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches
a speed of twenty miles per hour.
(c) “Class 3 electrical assisted bicycle” means an electrical assisted bicycle
equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is
pedaling and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a
speed of twenty-eight miles per hour.

*By way of history, the bike law or C.R.S. Section 42-4-1412 was amended in 2005 to give the bicyclists more flexibility in judging what are safe conditions for riding in the roadway.