From Amy Gaiennie, a Colorado Bike Accident Attorney with The Gaiennie Law Office in Denver, CO.
Colorado has a lot to offer, and many of its residents enjoy bike riding. The varying terrain and scenic views make the use of bikes for exercise and enjoyment incredibly popular throughout the state. However, it is common for both cyclists and drivers of automobiles to be uncertain as to proper road rules and etiquette.
A meeting held by a state senator and a state representative in Mesa County, Colorado, presented an opportunity for both cyclists and drivers to have a dialogue about the current state of the laws, the rules that govern cyclists and drivers, and to voice concerns about the lack of education for both cyclists and drivers.
In Mesa County, there have been 38 accidents involving a bike and a motor vehicle since 2013. In Denver, the average is north of 250 bike and motor vehicle accidents per year.
One of the primary issues affecting the interaction of bicycles and motor vehicles is a lack of education. As was evident in the meeting mentioned above, motor vehicle operators lacked even basic knowledge about bicycle rules. For instance, one driver suggested during the meeting that cyclists should be on the sidewalk instead of in the road. It had to be pointed out to the driver that cyclists were not allowed on the sidewalks, as it could endanger pedestrians.
Other examples of confusion include cyclists not understanding the laws as it relates to a cyclist’s ability to treat a stop sign as a yield sign and a red light as a stop sign. In Colorado, cyclists can roll through stop signs – known as an “Idaho Stop” – as long as the municipality has not passed laws indicating otherwise. For drivers, being uncertain as to what a cyclist can do or may do creates a dangerous environment; one that endangers both the rider and the driver.
Ultimately, the laws are designed to protect cyclists by requiring drivers to provide three feet of space between their vehicle and a bike when passing and allowing drivers to cross a double-yellow line to provide that three feet of space. Education on these laws is crucial to seeing safer roads for both drivers and cyclists.