Bicycle Laws: Street Bike Riding vs. Riding Bike on a Sidewalk

Laws differ regarding street bike riding and riding a bike on a sidewalk in Colorado. The state addresses riding on a sidewalk – and on the street – in its statutes, but much is left to local communities to dictate whether sidewalk riding is allowable.

Can you ride a bike on the sidewalk?

Bike riding rules may differ somewhat from one city or county to the next regarding the use of sidewalks. In Denver, for example, it is against the law to ride on the sidewalk, with some exceptions. These include when a cyclist is traveling less than 7 mph and is within one block of parking the bike or when on a designated bike route.

According to Colorado Statute §42-4-1412, bicyclists must abide by local ordinances or traffic control devices that prohibit riding a bike on the sidewalk. Where bikes are allowed on sidewalks, they must give the right-of-way to pedestrians. In addition, overtaking or passing a pedestrian must be done in a safe manner. This includes giving an audible signal, such as calling out your intention or ringing a bell.

One of the frustrations that many cyclists experience is the danger of street riding when bike routes aren’t available.

What are the laws for street bike riding?

Stay safe while bicycling in the street and become familiar with the rules of the road that apply to cyclists.

Some of the street bike riding rules include:

  • safely ride as far to the right as possible;
  • keep in a straight lane (don’t weave in and out of parked cars);
  • ride single file (unless riding two abreast doesn’t impede normal flow of traffic);
  • use hand signals for stopping, slowing, or turning right or left; and
  • hand signals must be used continuously at least 100 feet before turning or when waiting to turn (unless the hand is needed to control the bike).

What’s more, street bike riding rules dictate that right-of-way isn’t automatically granted to cyclists. For instance, if you are changing lanes, you must yield to other vehicles; you shouldn’t change lanes in front of a vehicle if it would force that vehicle to slow down.

At an uncontrolled intersection, the right-of-way goes to the one on the right. So if you approached it at the same time as a car on the left, that driver must yield to you.

No matter what the circumstances are, however, bicyclists must always yield to pedestrians at an intersection. This applies to marked and unmarked crosswalks.

The rules when it comes to taking a travel lane is that cyclists can only do so if:

  • they are moving at same speed as the traffic;
  • the lane is narrow and traffic is slow;
  • approaching an intersection; or
  • there is no bike lane or shoulder.

Knowing the rules pertaining to riding a bike on the sidewalk and riding a bike in the road can help cyclists stay safe. But, unfortunately, some motorists may not be familiar with the laws or may disregard a bicyclist’s right to the road, causing a serious bicycle accident. If this is the case, attorney D.J. Banovitz can review street bike riding laws and how they apply to your injury case (303) 300-5060.