Electric bikes and scooters have become increasingly popular in recent years, providing an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to traditional modes of transportation. However, it’s important to understand the laws and regulations surrounding these vehicles, especially when it comes to riding them in Colorado. At Front Range Injury Attorneys, we specialize in helping our clients navigate the legal landscape surrounding electric bikes and scooters. In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of Colorado’s laws regarding e-bikes and electric scooters, so you can ride with confidence and stay safe on the roads.
What is an electric bike?
An electric bike, also known as an e-bike, is a bicycle that’s equipped with a motor and a battery. The motor provides assistance when the rider pedals, making it easier to climb hills or cover long distances.
History of E-Bikes
According to Cycle Volta, the earliest e-bikes, in the form we would recognize today, originated in the 1990s. However, they were heavy and expensive, with lead-acid batteries that limited their range to less than 15 miles and a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour. In recent years, the development of lightweight and cost-effective lithium-ion batteries has significantly improved e-bike technology.
The Rise of the Modern E-Bike
Initially, the cycling community pushed back against e-bikes. However, the tide has since turned, and they are now widely accepted. E-bikes offer a faster and more convenient commuting experience, enable older riders and people with physical limitations to continue cycling, and provide an eco-friendly alternative to cars. Sales of e-bikes have skyrocketed, with 2020 sales totaling $457 million, twice that of 2019, according to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Furthermore, in 2021, e-bike imports into the U.S. were 55 percent higher than in the previous year, outselling electric cars and hybrid plug-ins combined.
The Future of E-Bikes and E-Bike Regulations
The e-bike market is projected to reach $80 billion globally by 2026, with North America being the fastest-growing market at a current value of $47 billion, according to Markets and Markets. As e-bike ridership continues to rise, there will be a steep learning curve for riders, drivers, law enforcement, and lawmakers. Regulations surrounding e-bikes and other personal transportation devices, such as electric scooters, will need to evolve to keep up with the changing landscape.
Colorado E-Bike Laws
In Colorado, e-bikes are classified as bicycles and are subject to the same laws and regulations as traditional bicycles. However, there are a few important distinctions to keep in mind:
- Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes are allowed on bike paths and multi-use paths unless otherwise posted. Class 3 e-bikes are not allowed on these paths unless the local jurisdiction specifically allows them.
- E-bikes are allowed on roads unless a local jurisdiction has specifically banned them. However, riders must obey all traffic laws, including speed limits, stop signs, and traffic signals.
- Riders must be at least 16 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike, and riders under the age of 18 must wear a helmet.
Classification of Electric Bikes in Colorado
In Colorado, electric bikes are classified into three categories based on their motor power and maximum speed. Understanding these categories can help you determine which type of electric bike you own and what laws apply to you.
Class 1 Electric Bikes
Class 1 electric bikes have a motor that only provides assistance when the rider is pedaling, and it stops assisting when the bike reaches a speed of 20 mph. These bikes are allowed on bike paths and bike lanes unless prohibited by local ordinances.
Class 2 Electric Bikes
Class 2 electric bikes have a motor that can be used to propel the bike without pedaling, and it stops assisting when the bike reaches a speed of 20 mph. These bikes are also allowed on bike paths and bike lanes unless prohibited by local ordinances.
Class 3 Electric Bikes
Class 3 electric bikes have a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and it stops assisting when the bike reaches a speed of 28 mph. These bikes are not allowed on bike paths or bike lanes unless they are adjacent to a roadway or are designated for shared use with pedestrians.
Regulations for Electric Bikes in Colorado
In addition to the classification of electric bikes, there are specific regulations that riders must follow when using e-bikes in Colorado.
Electric bike helmet laws in Colorado
In Colorado, electric bike riders under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet. Although it’s not required for adults, it’s highly recommended.
Electric bike speed limits in Colorado
In Colorado, the speed limit for electric bikes is 20 mph on flat ground, regardless of the e-bike classification. However, it’s important to note that some cities and counties may have different speed limits.
Electric bike DUI laws in Colorado
In Colorado, electric bike riders are subject to the same DUI laws as electric scooters or traditional pedal bikes. This means that riders can be charged with a DUI if they’re riding an e-bike under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Electric bike age restrictions in Colorado
There are no age restrictions for riding an electric bike in Colorado. However, it’s important to note that riders under the age of 16 must wear a helmet.
Electric bike registration requirements in Colorado
Electric bikes do not need to be registered in Colorado.
Insurance requirements for electric bikes in Colorado
Electric bikes do not require insurance in Colorado.
Colorado electric bike laws in state parks
In Colorado state parks, electric bikes are allowed on bike paths and roads, but not on hiking trails.
Best electric bike trails in Colorado
Colorado is home to some of the best electric bike trails in the country. Some of the most popular trails include:
- The Cherry Creek Trail in Denver
- The Boulder Creek Path in Boulder
- The Animas River Trail in Durango
Safety Tips for Riding E-Bikes and E-Scooters
While e-bikes and e-scooters can be a convenient and fun way to get around, it’s important to prioritize safety when riding. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Always wear a helmet, regardless of your age or the type of vehicle you’re riding.
- Obey all traffic laws, including speed limits, stop signs, and traffic signals.
- Stay visible to drivers by wearing bright clothing and using lights or reflectors on your vehicle.
- Keep both hands on the handlebars and always be aware of your surroundings.
- If you’re riding an e-scooter, avoid riding on sidewalks and be sure to park in designated areas.
By following these tips and understanding the laws and regulations surrounding e-bikes and e-scooters in Colorado, you can ride with confidence and stay safe on the roads.
Colorado electric bike laws can be a bit confusing, but understanding them is crucial to ensure a safe and legal riding experience. As long as you follow the rules and regulations outlined in this article, you can enjoy the benefits of electric biking without any legal issues. If you are injured while riding an electric bicycle, contact our experienced Denver bicycle accident attorneys to help you pursue an injury claim.
- Do electric bikes require a driver’s license in Colorado? No, electric bikes do not require a driver’s license in Colorado.
- Can electric bikes be ridden on bike paths in Colorado? Yes, electric bikes can be ridden on bike paths in Colorado as long as they are not specifically prohibited.
- Do electric bikes need to be registered in Colorado? No, electric bikes do not need to be registered in Colorado.
- What is the speed limit for electric bikes in Colorado? The speed limit for electric bikes in Colorado is 20 mph on flat ground.
- Are electric bike riders required to wear helmets in Colorado? Riders under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet, but it’s highly recommended for adults as well.