How Colorado’s New “Safety Stop” Law Impacts Bicyclists and Motorists

At Donaldson Law, LLC, our bicycle accident attorneys in Denver know that across the country last year, 938 bicyclists were killed in traffic collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) — 20 of those fatalities occurred in Colorado.

The NHTSA reports bicyclist deaths are highest during the summer months between June and September, and that nearly three-quarters of all bicyclist deaths occur in urban areas.

With just a couple more months of bicycle-riding weather ahead of us, we believe for everyone to share the roads safely, all parties can benefit from being informed about the regulations dictating how pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists are expected to interact when they encounter each other in traffic.

Here is what everyone sharing our roadways needs to know about our new Colorado Safety Stop law, and how it can help keep our cities safer.

What is the Colorado Safety Stop Law?

Before our Colorado Governor, Jared Polis, signed the Colorado Safety Stop into law, bicyclists riding in traffic were required to obey the same traffic rules as motorists.

Now, under the new law, bicyclists 15 years or older — or younger bicyclists who are riding with an adult — are allowed to treat stop signs as yield signs and red stop lights as stop signs when no oncoming traffic or pedestrians are present.

After stopping, bicyclists can proceed through the intersection or turn right before the light turns green. They are also able to turn left when one-way streets allow for left turns.

Specific traffic lights or signs prohibiting the newly legalized measures are not subject to the rules of the new law.

How Does the Colorado Safety Stop Law Help Make Our Roads Safer?

Proponents of the new law are confident it will make the roads safer for both drivers and bicyclists by reducing traffic congestion and providing greater visibility for the riders to be seen.

Additionally, research has shown that similar laws enacted in other states have minimized potential hazards for vehicles and bikes at intersections, leading to fewer collisions and property damage.

Unfortunately, when negligence is a factor on our roadways, regardless of new or existing laws, no one is safe.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident caused by negligence in Colorado, contact our skilled personal injury lawyers in Denver at Donaldson Law, LLC by calling (720) 458-5000 or contact us online to schedule a free confidential consultation to discuss your case.

Bicyclists Need Additional Protection on Roads, Statistics Show

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Bicycling is a common choice of transportation for many Colorado residents, especially those in Denver. However, bicyclist fatalities are on the rise in Colorado. In 2018, bicyclist deaths reached a 16-year high, at 22 fatalities. The rate of bicyclist deaths has been steadily increasing since 2002, leaving many concerned and determined to make Colorado roads safer for these individuals.

Current Safety Measures for Bicyclists in Colorado

Currently, most Colorado roads use painted bike lanes to separate bicyclists from motorists.

However, an observational study out of Australia showed that painted bicycle lanes may be counterproductive. According to the study, a large percentage of motorists traveled within 39 inches of bicyclists traveling on painted bike lanes.

In areas with higher speed limits, motorists were more likely to get even closer to bicyclists.

Interestingly, motorists left more space for bicyclists when there was no painted bicycle lane.

Colorado Laws Do Not Always Protect Bicyclists

Many Colorado bicyclists find traffic laws confusing. Even while using a bicycle lane and traveling through a green light, bicyclists may not have the right-of-way in a crash.

Although there is a statute that requires motorists to leave three feet between the car and a bicyclist, and another law that prohibits drivers from being careless or imprudent around bicyclists, bicycle accidents still occur frequently.

Many motorists continue to travel too closely to bicyclists. Additionally, many bicyclists are surprised that they are being blamed for accidents that were actually caused by motorists.

The Benefits of Protected Bike Lanes

Areas that have implemented protected bike lanes have seen positive changes in their communities.

A protected bike lane is a separate area for bicyclists, similar to a sidewalk. The area may be separated by planters or other types of barriers to offering an additional layer of protection from motorists.

In New York City, a protected bike lane on 9th Avenue led to a 57 percent decline in bicyclist injuries.

In general, protected bike lanes are linked to a 90 percent reduction in bicyclist injuries per mile as compared to roads without such lanes.

In intersection accidents, protected bike lanes reduce injuries by 75 percent.

Protected bike lanes are 7 times more effective than a painted lane. These protected lanes offer much more protection to bicyclists.

Bike lanes have seen positive feedback from residents as well. Those living in areas with protected bike lanes want to see more of these lanes created.

Additionally, those living in areas with protected bike lanes are much more likely to use their bicycles for commuting instead of their vehicles.

If You Are Injured While Riding a Bike, It May Be Possible to File a Negligence Action

Bicycle accidents are especially dangerous because an individual on a bicycle is no match for a car or truck. These accidents often cause permanent, debilitating injuries.

Motorists often try to blame bicyclists for accidents, even when they are not at fault. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you need to speak with an experienced Denver personal injury attorney to learn about your legal options. If you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to damages.

If you prevail in a personal injury claim against a negligent motorist, you may receive the following types of damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • The cost of future medical care
  • Lost wages
  • The cost of remodeling your home to accommodate an injury
  • Pain and suffering

Other types of damages may also be available, depending on the facts of your case. You should not have to face thousands of dollars in expenses when you were not at fault for your accident.

Contact Donaldson Law, LLC Today to Discuss Your Case

Attorney Jennifer Donaldson understands the stress and anxiety that a bicycle accident causes victims and their families. Our Donaldson Law, LLC  Law firm has helped many bicycle accident victims recover compensation to cover their medical bills and other expenses. To schedule a free consultation with our firm, contact us at 303-458-5000.

When Does a Bike Become a Moped?

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Bicycles and mopeds are among the most popular transportation options throughout the state of Colorado, especially in the Denver area. In fact, some estimate that there approximately 10,000 scooters and mopeds in Denver alone. There are specific laws and regulations that apply to bikes and mopeds, however, so it is important to ensure you understand your obligations under these rules.

Motorized Bicycles 

A motorized bicycle, according to Colorado law, does not have a motor bigger than 750 watts. In addition, these bikes cannot travel more than 20 miles per hour.


Colorado defines mopeds as vehicles with 2 or 3 wheels that have an automatic transmission. A moped’s cylinder capacity must be smaller than 50 cc (or 4476 watts if an electric model). On a flat surface, the moped cannot travel faster than 30 miles per hour.

If a moped possesses more power than that listed in the statute, it must be classified as a motorcycle.

Moped Laws in Colorado

If a vehicle qualifies as a moped, it must be registered in the state of Colorado. To register, the owner must provide proof of insurance and proof of ownership. A registration fee of $5.85 must also be paid.

These individuals, while traveling on their mopeds, must abide by all traffic laws, just like other Colorado motorists.

The Rise in Popularity of Electric Scooters

Electric scooters were first introduced to Denver in the summer of 2018. These popular devices are used by both residents and tourists alike to get around the city. There are various locations where electric scooters may be rented and returned.

Once House Bill 19-1221 was passed, the definition of motorized scooters was changed from “toy vehicles” to “vehicles.” This change in language authorized the use of electric scooters on public roadways in Colorado.

House Bill 19-1221 also provided those using electric scooters the same rights and duties as those afforded to those traveling on electrical assisted bicycles.

Unfortunately, there have been a number of accidents involving electric scooters in Colorado. Although most of these accidents result in relatively minor injuries, like broken bones, many scooter-related accident victims have sustained permanent injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries.

In August of 2019, the first death in a scooter-related accident in the City of Denver was reported. An ordinance is being introduced to improve safety measures. According to the proposed ordinance, using electric scooters would be prohibited on sidewalks. Instead, electric scooters would need to be used in bike lanes or on roadways.

Failing to Follow Applicable Laws May Be Used Against You

Whether you own a motorized bicycle, moped, or scooter, if you fail to follow applicable laws and regulations, it could be used against you if you are involved in an accident.  If electric scooters are not allowed on the sidewalk, make sure you ride in the bicycle lanes or on the road.  If you are using any of these modes of transportation in the regular traffic lanes, make sure you follow normal driving rules – just like you would when driving a car.   

If you have been injured in an accident, you need to schedule a consultation with an experienced Denver personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. If an opposing party or insurance company is trying to pin blame on you for the accident, it is critical that you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can properly investigate the circumstances of your crash.

If you prevail in your case, you may be entitled to the cost of your medical bills, lost wages, and even the cost of any future medical care you may need. You may also be able to pursue a claim for pain and suffering damages. Your attorney will help you determine which damages you are entitled to.

Donaldson Law, LLC is Experienced in Scooter-Related Accident Claims

At the Donaldson Law, LLC, our legal team handles various types of personal injury claims, including those involving scooters, mopeds, or electric bikes. To schedule a free consultation and learn about your legal options, contact us at (303) 458-5000.

New Colorado Law Protects Cyclists

New Colorado Law Protects Cyclists

The data is clear: Pedestrians and cyclists throughout Colorado are in danger. In recent years, pedestrian and cyclist deaths have increased significantly. In 2017 and 2018, 92 and 90 pedestrians were killed, respectively, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

Sixteen cyclists were killed in 2017, and 22 were killed in 2018. Both pedestrian and cyclist traffic deaths have hit all-time highs for the state, and, without doing more, the rate of pedestrian and cyclist deaths will likely increase in 2019.  

Fortunately, the State of Colorado is taking steps to reduce traffic fatalities. To better protect pedestrians, cyclists, and roadside workers, Gov. Jared Polis signed SB 175, which increases the penalty for injuring cyclists, pedestrians, and others.

SB 175 Increases Criminal Charge for Careless Driving

SB 175, Serious Bodily Injury Vulnerable Road User Penalties, which was signed into law on May 29, 2019, increases the level of the criminal charge for certain careless driving offenses. If a motorist’s careless driving seriously injures a “vulnerable road user,” it is now a Class 1 misdemeanor.

A vulnerable road user is defined in the law as:

  • A pedestrian;
  • A person engaged in work upon a roadway or upon utility facilities along a roadway;
  • A person providing emergency services within a right-of-way;
  • A peace officer who is outside a vehicle and performing their duties in a right-of-way;
  • A person riding or leading an animal;
  • A person lawfully using a bike, electric bike, tricycle, other pedal vehicle, farm tractor or other farm vehicle, skateboard, roller skates, in-line skates, scooter, moped, motorcycle, off-highway vehicle, animal-drawn wheeled vehicle, sled, electric personal assistive mobility device, wheelchair, baby stroller, or nonmotorized pull wagon on a public right-of-way, crosswalk, or shoulder of the roadway.

Penalties for this Class 1 misdemeanor can include fines, incarceration, a driver improvement course, up to 320 hours of community service, restitution, and a one-year license suspension. Class 1 misdemeanors can be punished with fines between $500 and $5,000 and between six and 24 months in jail.

What Else Is Colorado Doing to Protect Cyclists?

Before making major changes, CDOT is utilizing community-involved studies to determine appropriate strategies to protect vulnerable road users. These studies are taking place in Kremmling, Buena Vista, Salida, Woodland Park, and other areas. What may come of these studies depends on the results, but Colorado is considering bike highways, slower speed limits, narrower lanes, and bike lanes.

Denver is already working on several new high comfort bikeways and hopes to have many completed by 2020. The proposed sites are:

  • Green Valley Ranch Road from Tower to Picadilly Roads
  • Clayton Street from 40th to 52nd Avenues
  • S. Marion Street, E. Virginia to E. Bayaud Avenues
  • N. Crown Boulevard from E. Albrook Drive to E. 56th Avenue
  • City Park Esplanade from 16th to 17th Avenues
  • E. Princeton Avenue from Eastmoor to Tamarac Drives
  • Central Park Boulevard from Montview Boulevard to 36th Avenue
  • W. 23rd Avenue from Speer to Federal Boulevards

There were also several completed projects in 2018, including additional and improved bike lanes.

Another step Colorado took to improve cyclist safety was to enact the Stop-as-Yield law, also known as the Safety Stop law. The state law gives individual communities the right to allow a certain maneuver many cyclists use to keep themselves safe. Instead of coming to a full stop at stop signs or red lights, many cyclists come to a rolling stop, review the intersection, and proceed when it is safe to do so.

This does not give cyclists the right to run stop signs and red lights in Colorado. The law regarding traffic signals and signs as well as the right of way remains in effect. But communities can choose to allow cyclists to perform rolling stops, which can help cyclists become more visible to vehicles and get out of their way faster.

Were You Struck by a Vehicle While on Your Bike?

If you were hit by a car while riding your bike in the Denver area, you should contact an experienced Denver personal injury lawyer right away. The negligent driver may or may not be charged with a crime. This depends on the information the police gather and the prosecutor’s discretion.

Whether or not they face a crime or are convicted, you may have a strong claim for compensation. Jennifer Donaldson can guide you in pursuing a financial recovery through an insurance claim and personal injury lawsuit. To learn more about your legal options after a car-bike crash, contact Donaldson Law, LLC at (303) 458-5000.

Bike Share Programs & Safety in Denver

Bike Share Station in DenverBike share programs are expanding in the Denver region and across the U.S. for a number of reasons. Not everyone can afford a bike of their own, particularly students. Sturdy and durable bikes can be pricey, not to mention the maintenance they require. Also, not everyone wants to consistently travel by bike. Many people enjoy a leisurely or quick bike ride, yet have no interest in cycling to and from work every day. For these reasons and more, it is becoming much more common to rent a bike for a brief period of time from a local bike library or a nationwide bike sharing program. Along with this rising use of bike shares, it has become even more important for people to understand bike safety.

Bike Share Programs Are Safe

As more bike share programs crop up around Colorado, many people wonder whether they are safe. Should a family pick up bikes near Denver Botanic Gardens and ride the few blocks to the Denver Zoo? Should a young woman rent a bike on campus to make a quick run to her favorite Trader Joe’s? The answer seems to be a resounding “yes,” so long as riders know how to ride safely.

In 2016, Mineta Transportation Institute released an analysis of bike-sharing safety. Since 2010, most major cities had one or more bike-sharing programs, including Denver. Yet for all of the people renting bikes for long and short trips, no fatal accidents had occurred in the U.S. Additionally, accident and injury rates for the bike-sharing programs in the study were lower than for previously established personal cycling accident and injury rates.

There is no definite reason why bike-share programs experience fewer collisions and injuries, though researchers have some insight. A few theories include:

  • Bike share bicycles may be more colorful, visible, and recognizable to drivers.
  • Bike share riders may be inherently more cautious.
  • Bike share bicycles are designed for slower, stable rides.

However, people should not take their safety for granted. Before renting, they should give the bike a thorough look over. Look at the tires, are they inflated or flat? Look at the brakes, are the wires intact? Give the brake handles a squeeze to ensure there is resistance. Do any screws or chains look loose? If a rider is worried about any part of the bike, he should rent a different one and notify the bike share program of the issue.

Sharing the Road

Most people are not renting a bike to go on miles-long trail rides or one of the routes we compiled. Instead, bike shares are often used to get from point A to point B quickly. This could be in downtown Denver, on one of the many campuses, or even to get from Stapleton to Marston, if someone is ambitious. All of this requires navigating the city, and since riding on sidewalks is generally illegal, bike share customers need to know how to safely share the road with vehicles.

To share the road, cyclists should:

  • Ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Ride as far to the right as is safe, but avoid riding in the gutter or too close to the curb.
  • Use bike paths whenever they are available.
  • Obey all traffic signals, including stop signs and red lights.
  • Do not weave in and out of traffic.
  • Wear bright, visible clothing.
  • Ride at a reasonable speed and keep enough distance from vehicles to be able to react to changes in traffic or something unexpected.
  • Make their intentions clear and obvious to drivers, particularly about turning.
  • Be as predictable as possible.

Despite a cyclist’s best efforts to safely share the road with cars, accidents happen. When a cyclist is injured in a bicycle-vehicle collision, they should contact Denver bicycle accident attorney Jennifer L. Donaldson at (303) 458-5000 or through our online form.