Smart cycling in Denver
Denver is a beautiful city, so it should be of no surprise that bicycling has grown in popularity as a form of transportation throughout the city. Bicycling is economical, healthy, and an excellent way to get around. If you are a cyclist, you need to learn the local bicycling ordinances to help improve your safety and significantly decrease your odds of being in a crash.
Follow good road etiquette and laws, make yourself more visible, and be prepared to act defensively in case a driver doesn’t see you. Remember, intersections are the most dangerous so you should always stay alert and watch for cars. There is a program urging bicyclists in Denver to be street smart. Cyclists are encouraged to Ride Smart as part of Denver’s Vision Zero initiative that is an effort to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries on Denver roads.
Part of the Vision Zero initiative is Ride Smart, which encourages cyclists to:
- Know the rules of the road and rules of the trail
- Communicate and let others know your intentions on the road
- Be visible and ride where others can see you and use reflectors and lights after dark
- Be very alert and don’t ride when you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Wear a helmet for safety
- It is a good practice to carry your ID and your phone when you go out for a ride
The most important concept for a cyclist is to NEVER ASSUME that drivers can see you! This applies to every situation but most importantly to intersections. Drivers are not trained to be aware of cyclists on the road. Taking an extra second to make eye contact with the driver is a good strategy for smart cyclists. Most drivers did not learn how to look out for pedestrians and cyclists in their driver education courses. Odds are against you on the road, so increase your chances of avoiding a crash with a motor vehicle. You lose in that scenario every time.
There are several ordinances that cyclists need to be aware of when riding around Denver (within city limits). As a cyclist, you should:
- Ride in a designated bike late when possible, and if not ride to the right side in a straight line, when safe to do so.
- Stay off sidewalks. (bicycles are only allowed if you are going to stop within the block you entered the sidewalk, or if detours or street signs clearly guide you to the sidewalk, or the sidewalk is marked as an official Bike Path)
- For right turns, use the far right lane or turning lane. For left turns, signal your intentions in advance then move to the left turn lane and complete the turn when it is safe. At bike intersections, wait at the designated turn queue box and as a pedestrian pushing your bike, go to the crosswalk and walk across. Motorists often don’t recognize hand signals for turning. Don’t assume they see you just because you signal you intended direction with your arm.
- Obey all signs prohibiting bicycling.
- At night, bicycles need to have a white light on the front that is visible for 500 feet and a red rear reflector that is visible up to 600 feet when illuminated by headlights. A rear red light is suggested, but not required by law. Side reflectors are also recommended and any additional reflective clothing or accessories are recommended for night riding.
What to Do If in A Crash with a Car
If you are in a crash with a car, you need to protect your rights and your health. Follow these steps:
- It is always important to contact the police department in the event of a crash, however, if there is a physical injury involved, you must call the local police. If your injuries require emergency medical treatment (let’s hope you are conscious enough to know this) call 911 or have someone at the scene call for you if you cannot.
- Get information for all drivers involved. Get names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, and license plate numbers. You will need the insurance information of the driver so you can write a letter to their insurance rep.
- Get the names and contact information for any witnesses. This will be important to show who was at fault for the crash.
- Take photographs of your injuries, your damaged clothing and helmet, your bike, and any vehicles involved as well as the accident scene. If at all possible, take a video of the area with your smartphone. If you had a GoPro operating at the time of the accident, keep the video.
- Make sure the officer completing the report hears your side of the story. Sometimes the police officer only gets information from the drivers involved in the crash and overlook the cyclist. Make sure the officer is also aware of any witnesses to the crash.
- Get proper medical care. You should go to the nearest hospital or urgent care facility (Walgreen’s for example) to be checked even if you don’t think you are injured because you may wake up the following day in a lot of pain. Additionally, you may be running off adrenaline and cannot feel any injuries initially!
Denver Area Hospitals and Urgent Care facilities:
- Denver Health, 777 Bannock St. and Adult Urgent Care Facilities
- National Jewish Health, 1400 Jackson St.
- Presbyterian – St. Luke’s Medical Center, 1719 E. 19th Ave.
- AFC Urgent Care
Note: This posting does not constitute an endorsement of any of these organizations or facilities. It is a good idea to keep your own medical contact information for emergency care with you when you ride. Make your own card and keep it in your bike bag or jersey shirt pocket when riding.
Use extra caution when cycling and you can enjoy years of healthy, fun riding. Improve your health and strength while saving money on transportation costs as you maneuver to your destinations. Even the safest rider can be in a crash, so always be prepared for what the day may bring. Watch for reckless drivers, follow all ordinances, and know what to do in the event of a crash.
*This article was provided by Personal Injury Help and was not written by an attorney, and the accuracy of the content is not warranted or guaranteed. If you wish to receive legal advice about a specific problem, you should contact a licensed attorney in Denver.
Special thanks to Deanna Power of personalinjury-law.org for providing the helpful information in this post.