At Marathon Law, we are not only Denver personal injury attorneys, but bicycle attorneys. We love to bike, especially down the Larimer bike lanes to our office in Five Points. But we also know bicycling can be extremely dangerous, especially in a city that’s adding more people than we know what to do with – many from places that aren’t as biker-friendly as Denver is trying to be.
In 2017, there were 783 cyclists killed in the United States. So far, as of July 25, 2019 of this year, there have been 6 cyclists killed in Colorado. There were 22 cyclists killed in 2018. And while it’s difficult to tell the exact cause of death in each case, no doubt many of these deaths could have been avoided.
As drivers, it’s our responsibility to share the road and be aware of the cyclists around us. As cyclists, it’s our responsibility to ride in a way that doesn’t endanger our lives and others. This means following the law, no matter how inconvenient or lame it may seem.
What’s the law?
According to the Denver Municipal Code, bicycles are considered “vehicles” which means they share all of the privileges of the road with persons driving cars unless specifically posted (think I-25). As such, cyclists must obey all posted signs and traffic signals. Yes, running a stop sign in Denver is still illegal (although not in Thornton, interestingly).
There is a whole slew of bicycle laws, but some of the most important are:
- You must have a white light lamp on the front of your bike that’s visible from five hundred (500) feet if you’re riding at night;
- You must have a red rear reflector visible 600 feet from the rear, again, if you’re riding at night; and
- You can’t ride on the sidewalk unless: (a) the sidewalk is part of a designated bicycle route; or (b) you’re preparing to dismount and park your bike or you’ve just mounted your bike and not yet crossed a street or alley.
Oddly, there is no law that requires you to wear a helmet, but if you sustain a head injury and you weren’t wearing a helmet, it could damage your case. Bottom line: always wear a helmet, regardless of the law.
Stranger still is that you can get a DUI if you’re caught biking while drunk (or high) and the charge is the exact same one you would get if you were driving under the influence in a motor vehicle.
Lastly, you must ride as near to the right-hand side of the roadway as you judge to be safe to allow cars to pass you unless traffic conditions make it unsafe to do so. However, while technically not legal based on a plain reading of Denver law, if you don’t feel safe in traffic, we encourage you to ride on the sidewalk (only temporarily) until it’s safe to ride in traffic again. Just remember that you have to yield to pedestrians. And probably expect to get yelled at.
What to do if you get hit.
As bicycle attorneys, we know that not all car-versus-bike accidents end in death. But, almost always, the cyclist is going to be seriously injured. Therefore, it’s important to know what to do if you are hit.
- Call the police and file a report.
Sometimes, police officers are busy and the last thing they want to do is fill out a traffic accident report, especially if everyone has sufficient insurance. But in order to protect your rights and preserve evidence for your case later, you have to insist that the officer file a report. In the highly unlikely event that he/she refuses, ask to speak to a supervisor until someone does their job and files a report.
- Take pictures or video.
If your phone hasn’t been obliterated, take pictures of the scene. Take pictures of your bike, the car that hit you, and the place where it happened, including any relevant road signs or signals. Video is even better.
- Get medical attention now. We will help you get your bills paid later.
Oftentimes, for good reason, many people avoid or delay medical attention. Oftentimes, they have terrible or no insurance and are concerned about how much treatment will cost. At this point, do NOT worry about it. Your only concern at this point is yourself and your health. If the driver has insurance, you’re covered. If you have an auto policy withmedical payments coverage, you’re covered. If the driver has no insurance, and your auto policy has an uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) provision, you’re covered. Get treatment and follow through with your doctor’s orders. Failure to get medical treatment when it’s warranted will negatively affect your case.
- Get as much witness information as you can.
Cellphones are awesome. Maybe too awesome. But they have killer cameras. So, again, assuming your cellphone hasn’t been smashed into a thousand pieces, take a picture of everyone’s driver’s licenses (including the driver that hit you), get business cards, put their name in your phone, etc. Get as much information from as many people as possible. As for the driver, get a picture of his/her license plate, their insurance card, and their driver’s license.
- Call a Denver bicycle attorney immediately at 303-704-1222.
We don’t charge for initial consultations. We’ll help you get your medical bills paid. The sooner we’re on the case, the better. And we won’t stop until we get you the justice you deserve. If you don’t get paid, we don’t get paid.
Safe riding out there people.