Colorado is one of the best states in the country for motorcyclists. From the twisting mountains views, to the flat meadows or the high desert near Pueblo, the state offers riders virtually every type of scenery or roadway imaginable.
Unsurprisingly, the popularity of motorcycles is surging in the state. According to data collected and provided by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), motorcycle registrations are up by more than 60 percent since the year 2000. Yet, sadly, as motorcycle popularity continues to rise, so do motorcycle-related fatalities and serious injuries.
We need to make our roads safer for motorcyclists. As riding a motorcycle comes with some inherent risks, it is imperative that all bikers have a full understanding of the rules of the road so that they can operate their motorcycle in a safe manner.
Additionally, all drivers need to take care to watch out for bikers. At McCormick & Murphy, P.C., we are committed to promoting highway safety. This starts with knowledge of and compliance with the law. Here, our Colorado Springs motorcycle accident attorneys highlight what all bikers need to know about our state’s motorcycle laws.
Bikers Must Follow All of the Standard Rules of the Road
First and foremost, it should be noted that motorcyclists are, for the most part, required to follow all of Colorado’s standard rules and regulations. When you are on your bike, you should comply with all of the state’s general traffic laws.
Of course, Colorado does offer some opportunities for “off-roading”. Some laws do not apply when you are operating your bike off of the public roads. That being said, regardless of where you are, you always have a legal obligation to operate your motorcycle in a reasonably safe manner.
Colorado’s Motorcycle-Specific Laws
While most laws that apply to full-sized vehicles also cover motorcycles, there are some unique motorcycle-specific laws that should also be addressed.
Lane Splitting is Unlawful
First, motorcycle lane splitting is unlawful in Colorado. Overtaking another vehicle in the same lane or riding between lanes is never allowed in the state. This is true even if traffic is completely stalled. It is imperative that riders from out of state understand this rule, as some other jurisdictions do allow lane splitting. Indeed, California, which holds nearly half of the total population of the western United States, allows motorcycle lane splitting.
Clinging is Unlawful
Motorcycle ‘clinging’ is also illegal in Colorado. Bikers may never grab onto any part of another car while moving on the state’s roadways. Any type of towing or clinging is extremely dangerous and it should always be avoided. Beyond facing legal punishment, you will be putting your safety in jeopardy.
Motorcycle Lane Sharing (Co-Riding) is Allowed
It is important to note that motorcycle ‘co-riding’ is legally permissible in Colorado. This means that bikers are allowed to share one lane and ride side by side with another motorcycle. No more than two bikers should share one lane. Of course, co-riding is by no means a requirement; motorcyclists always have the legal authority to control one entire lane just as any other full-sized automobile would be able to do.
Motorcycle Helmets are Not Required, With an Exception for Minors
Under Colorado law, motorcyclists are not legally required to wear a protective helmet. However, there is an exception for riders (and passengers) who are under the age of eighteen. Anyone under the age of eighteen must wear a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved safety helmet.
While Colorado does not legally require helmets for most riders, state officials want to make it clear that wearing a helmet is in the best interests of all motorcyclists. The safety benefits of motorcycle helmets are unquestioned. A helmet could save your life; please protect yourself.
Eye Protection is Mandatory
While motorcycle helmets are not required in Colorado, state law does mandate that all riders have valid eye protection when on a motorcycle. Eye protection can come in many different forms.
The most straightforward type of motorcycle eye protection is simply wearing a helmet. All DOT approved helmets are equipped with eye protection that meets Colorado’s minimum safety requirements. Beyond wearing a helmet, a rider could also satisfy the state’s eye protection mandate by wearing an approved type of goggles or safety glasses.
Your Bike Must Meet Certain Safety Requirements
Finally, your motorcycle itself must meet certain minimally mandated safety standards to be allowed on the road. This regulation is similar to the one that all full-sized cars have to go through. Your motorcycle must be properly registered and inspected. Further, you should have sufficient accident insurance as is mandated by Colorado law.
Beyond the standard requirements, there are also a few motorcycle-specific specifications that your bike needs to comply with to be allowed on state roads. Some of the most notable requirements are as follows:
- Your motorcycle must be outfitted with a proper seat and proper footrests;
- You must have at least one working headlight, along with working brake lights;
- Your bike must have a muffler and it cannot make a sound louder than 86 decibels when fifty feet away from it;
- At least one side mirror is required; and
- If you are carrying a passenger, a proper passenger seat and footrest is required.
Finally, it should also be noted that Colorado police officers are legally permitted to pull over bikers to conduct random inspections. As such, you should ensure that your motorcycle is in full legal compliance at all times. For more specific information regarding Colorado motorcycle law and bike specification regulations, please refer to the official Colorado Motorcycle Operator’s Handbook.
Were You Injured in a Colorado Motorcycle Accident?
We can Help. At McCormick & Murphy, P.C., our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers have helped many injured bikers obtain full and fair compensation for their losses. We are committed to protecting the legal rights and financial interests of motorcyclists.
To request a free, no obligation review of your accident claim, please call us today at (888) 668-1182. Our primary office is located in Colorado Springs and we also have meeting locations in Denver and Pueblo.