I witnessed a horrific event recently. While waiting for the traffic signal to turn green on Larimer, a police officer darted through the intersection, maneuvered around idling vehicles, only to stop within inches of striking a cyclist who strayed to the left. The squad car then aggressively tailed the cyclist back to the right. The corralling continued all the way down to 15th Street, where the officer exited his vehicle in the middle of Larimer and forced cyclists to the right. This blog addresses the law requiring riders to bike on the right.
I would like to start by offering my criticism of the police officer. I cannot help but brand this type of behavior as patently unacceptable and indicative of abusiveness by the Denver Police Department. There are ways to rationally and calmly go about enforcing the laws, but rear-ending a cyclist is not one of them. There is absolutely no justification for such cavalier tactics. The officer should be punished and forced to offer a public apology.
Unfortunately, if things continue on their current path, the city of Denver will put a stop to Denver Bike Night. More overzealous officers will be hired to protect the streets on Wednesday nights. Squadrons of bike-hating, maniacal boys in blue will be stationed on every block, waiting for a cyclist to break a law. We have to put an end to any mindless behavior before even greater resistance among the police is bred.
The officer acted the way he did because a few cyclists were off to the left on Larimer. It is important to remember that a bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and a cyclist is considered a driver in Colorado. Cyclists therefore have the same rights on the roadways and must obey the same traffic laws as drivers. There is only one road and it is up to cyclists and motorists to treat each other with care and respect. Adherence to the law is the foundation for this respect, but the law is simply a codification of the rules of movement that makes all road users predictable to one another. When riding, just remember the following rules:
- Ride Two Abreast: Riding two abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and on a lane roadway, cyclists shall ride within a single lane.
- Stay off Sidewalks: A cyclist can use a sidewalk only when (1) it is part of a designed bike route; (2) within a block of preparing to mount/ dismount at parking; or (3) engaged in delivering newspapers.
- Night Riding: At night, bicycles should be equipped with a front white light visible to 500 feet and a rear red reflector visible when illuminated by headlights to 600 feet.
- One Person, One Bike: Riding double is only permitted when carrying a child in an approved carrier or when riding on a tandem bicycle. Children should always wear a helmet.
- Bike Bans: Cyclists are not allowed to ride on the 16th Street Mall, except on Sundays. Additionally, bicycle parking is not permitted on the mall.
- Bike on the Right: Cyclists should never ride against traffic.
- Ride in the Right Lane: Cyclists should always ride in the right lane, except when (1) passing another bicycle; (2) preparing for a left turn; or (3) avoiding hazards. Additionally, on curving canyon roads without bike lanes or shoulders, cyclists should play it safe and ride single file. Riding on the right side of the road will help make for a safer, smoother ride because cyclists will be visible to motorists.
- Obey all Traffic Laws, Signs, and Signals.
- Do not Operate a Vehicle While Intoxicated.
Our Denver personal injury lawyers have seen the consequences of failing to follow the rules of the road. I have represented countless motorists and cyclists who were injured because of someone else’s negligence. There is no reason to add to the madness by deviating from the rules of the road. When riding a bike throughout Denver, it is incumbent upon us all to ride responsibly.
If you have any questions, contact our attorneys today at 720.863.6904 or email us for your free consultation. Our lawyers handle a wide range of personal injury cases, including Motor Vehicle Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Slip & Fall Accidents, and Dog Bites & Attacks. We service Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Commerce City, Lakewood, Littleton, Thornton, Westminster, Wheat Ridge, and other parts of metropolitan Denver, Colorado.
Owner and Managing Attorney
Jerry Bowman, J.D., M.A., Owner and managing attorney of Bowman Law LLC, takes his responsibility to the legal profession seriously and dedicates his time and effort to providing quality and competent legal representation to clients in Denver and throughout all of Colorado. He holds an MA in Political Science from Wayne State University and earned his law degree in two and a half years from Michigan State University College of Law.