Bicycle accidents are almost the same as car or motor vehicle accidents…but different.
Colorado law looks the same at the physical injuries and compensable losses. The basic principles of negligence are the same. Drivers of the vehicles have a duty to drive reasonably and prudently. Failure to do so is a breach in the obligation. When the breach causes injuries, the vehicle driver may be liable to compensate the bicyclist victim.
However, bicycles are not motorized. They are operated differently, and the Colorado legislature and local governments have enacted specific or separate traffic or “bicycle” laws to facilitate traffic and protect the bicyclists. Laws concerning bicycling and traffic are from the Colorado Revised Statutes. See, e.g., C.R.S. § 42-4-1412.
There are specific “rules of the road.” Generally speaking, bicycles should ride in the right lane and close to the right-hand side or in the paved shoulder. However, when turning left, passing, or avoiding dangerous conditions, they may move elsewhere. Ideally, riders in a pack should ride single file. They must keep at least one hand on the handle-bar. Left hand turns have special rules. Hand signals must be used for turning and stopping.
Bicyclists may use ride on sidewalks, unless prohibited by local ordinances. If a bicyclist is on the sidewalk, it takes on rights and duties of a pedestrian, with special duties to other pedestrians. Fort Collins, Boulder, and now, Denver, have incorporated bicycle lanes and bicyclists into their transportation scheme and most riding occurs in streets. Cars have duties in regards to bicyclists, too.
An estimated 45,000+ cyclists are injured each year and NHSTA reported that 818 bicyclists were killed in 2015 from motor vehicle accidents. A 2012 study concluded twenty-nine (29%) of bicycle accidents occur in motor vehicle accidents.
The takeaway to all this is that accidents occur. A third of bicycle accidents are with motor vehicles. Call today to schedule a free consultation if you have been injured in a bicycle accident.