Biking is an increasingly popular mode of transportation in Colorado, and for good reason. Biking is an affordable, eco-friendly, and healthy way to get around town. However, many bikers are unsure of the laws surrounding biking on sidewalks, which can lead to confusion and potential legal issues. In this article, we will explore the legality of biking on sidewalks in Colorado and provide tips for safe and responsible biking.
Overview of Colorado Bike Laws
Before we dive into the specifics of biking on sidewalks, let’s first take a look at the broader bike laws in Colorado. According to Colorado state law, bikes are considered vehicles and are subject to the same rules of the road as cars and trucks. This means that bikers must obey traffic signals, stop signs, and other traffic laws.
In addition, Colorado state law requires that bikes be equipped with certain safety features, such as brakes and a bell or horn. Bikers must also use hand signals when turning or stopping, and they must ride on the right side of the road.
While Colorado state law provides a general framework for bike safety and regulation, the specifics of bike laws can vary from city to city and county to county. This means that it is important to know the laws in your particular area when biking.
Biking on Sidewalks in Colorado
Now let’s turn our attention specifically to biking on sidewalks in Colorado. As we mentioned earlier, Colorado state law considers bikes to be vehicles, which means that bikers are generally expected to ride on the road. There are some exceptions to this rule. In most Colorado cities, such as Denver and Boulder, it is generally illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk; however, children under the age of 10 are allowed to bike on the sidewalk, as are adults with mobility issues.
It is important to note that even in cities where biking on the sidewalk is legal, there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. First and foremost, bikers must always yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk. This means that bikers should ride at a slow speed and be prepared to stop or slow down if necessary.
In addition, bikers should be aware of the potential hazards of riding on the sidewalk, such as uneven pavement or obstacles in the path. Bikers should also be aware that drivers may not be looking for bikers on the sidewalk, which can lead to accidents.
Denver and other Colorado Municipalities
Cities have authority under Colorado law to establish municipal ordinances that control when you can ride a bike on a sidewalk within the city. Municipal ordinances can establish rules for the entire city or different rules for specific parts of town. That is common in downtown areas and highly trafficked areas around schools and tourist attractions.
In Colorado, most major cities ban bicycles on sidewalks anywhere in the city. That is true across Denver under Denver Municipal Code Section 54-576. Riding a bicycle or electric bike on a publicly accessible sidewalk is illegal except:
- The bicyclist is a government employee biking as part of official duties, such as a bicycle-mounted police officer.
- The cyclist is delivering newspapers.
- The sidewalk is designated as part of a bike lane or route.
- The bicyclist is dismounting to park the bike at a location on the sidewalk, such as a bike rack.
- The cyclist mounted the bike but has not yet crossed a street or alley.
Under the Denver ordinance, the bike rider must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian on the sidewalk.
Alternatives to Biking on the Sidewalk
While biking on the sidewalk can be a convenient and safer option in some cases, there are also alternatives to consider. Bikers may choose to ride on the road, use bike lanes, take bike paths or trails, or use bike share programs.
Biking on the road can be a bit intimidating for new bikers, but with some practice and caution, it can be a safe and effective way to get around town. Many cities have designated bike lanes or bike routes that provide a dedicated space for bikers on the road.
Bike paths and trails can be a great way to enjoy nature and get some exercise while biking. Many cities have dedicated bike paths or trails that are separate from roads and offer a more relaxed biking experience.
Bike share programs, such as B-Cycle in Denver, provide a convenient and affordable way to rent bikes for short trips around town. These programs often have bike stations located throughout the city, making it easy to pick up and drop off a bike when needed. Many of these have been replaced by e-scooters in recent years.
Liability for Injured Caused by a Bike on a Sidewalk
If a bicyclist causes an accident resulting in injuries while riding on a sidewalk in Colorado, liability for those injuries falls to the person acting negligently or breaking a roadway law. If a state or local law prohibits the cyclist from riding on the sidewalk, the bicyclist is most likely responsible for causing a pedestrian accident. Under rare circumstances, a pedestrian could be liable for causing a bicycle accident when the pedestrian’s own negligent or intentional acts caused the collision.
If you suffer injuries in an accident involving a bicycle, including a sidewalk accident, contact our Denver bicycle accident lawyers for a free consultation. You may be entitled to compensation from the negligent party’s insurance.
In conclusion, the legality of biking on sidewalks in Colorado varies depending on the city and the specific circumstances. While biking on the sidewalk can be legal in some areas, bikers must always yield to pedestrians and ride in a safe and considerate manner. It is important for bikers to be aware of the potential hazards of riding on the sidewalk and to consider alternative biking options, such as riding on the road or using bike paths or trails.
If you’re unsure about the specific laws in your area, it’s always a good idea to check with your local government or police department. By following the rules of the road and biking responsibly, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable biking experience for yourself and others.
- Is it illegal to bike on the sidewalk in all Colorado cities?
No, the laws regarding biking on the sidewalk vary depending on the city.
- Do I need a license to bike on the road in Colorado?
No, you do not need a license to ride a bike on the road in Colorado.
- Can I ride my bike on a pedestrian path?
In most cases, no. Pedestrian paths are usually reserved for pedestrians only.
- Do I have to wear a helmet when biking in Colorado?
It depends on your age. In Colorado, anyone under the age of 18 is required to wear a helmet while biking.
- Can I ride my bike on the road even if there is no bike lane?
Yes, bikes are allowed on the road and are considered vehicles, even if there is no bike lane.