New bicycle safety signs going up on state roadways

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Colorado Department of Transportation 

With bicycling season in full swing, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Bicycle Colorado are teaming up to remind motorists to give bicyclists their fair share of the roadway when traveling the state’s highways.

Signs reminding drivers of Colorado’s “Three-Foot” law, requiring motorists to give bicyclists at least 3 feet of space between the widest part of their vehicle and the widest part of the bicyclist, are being installed at various locations around the state, either as part of a road construction or sign replacement project. Drivers are allowed to cross a double yellow line to pass when it does not put oncoming traffic at risk.

“These new highway signs are designed to remind drivers that they are legally required to maintain a safe space when passing people biking on a shared roadway,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “Studies indicate that regulatory signs for the 3-foot law are much more effective at enhancing safety. They also help make it clear that drivers bear the responsibility for safely passing a bicyclist.”

Thirty-five states currently have statutes in place requiring at least a 3-foot clearance between a motor vehicle and bicyclist.

“We thank CDOT for making the change to the new State Law 3 Feet to Pass signage,” said Bicycle Colorado Director of Government Relations Piep van Heuven. “Words matter and these signs leave no doubt about what is expected of drivers when passing bicyclists on any roadway — 3 feet of space and no less. It’s exciting to see CDOT leading on best practices in bicycle safety signage.”

See the statute at: https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/olls/2009a_sl_239.pdf.

June is Bike Month in Colorado. Following are some reminders for bicyclists and motorists to safely interact on the state’s roadways.

Bicyclists

• Wear a helmet to protect your head and reduce injury severity.

• Follow the rules of the road. Ride in the right-hand lane and, when it is safe to do so, ride on the right to allow vehicles to safely pass.

• Follow the rules of the road. Ride in the right-hand lane and, when wide enough, ride on the right to allow vehicles to safely pass, except when turning, passing or avoiding obstacles.

• Ride side by side on single-lane roads only when not impeding traffic.

• Use hand signals 100 feet before turning, merging or stopping if you can do so while safely operating your bike.

• Use extra caution after dark. Use bike lights, reflectors and wear reflective clothing.

• Avoid distractions. Riding and using a cellphone can be dangerous. Turn down music and remove headphones. Ride defensively and be aware of your surroundings.

• Eye contact and/or a quick nod is an easy way to confirm that both bicyclist and driver see and acknowledge each other’s presence. Ride defensively, stay visible and be prepared to react. It’s important never to assume that a driver sees you.

• Maintain your bike. Check brakes, lubricate the chain and check for proper tire pressure.

Motorists

• Provide 3 feet minimum of space when passing bicyclists.

• Avoid distractions. Never text and drive, limit or eliminate cellphone use, turn down music/talk volume.

• Be aware that bicycles may be encountered at any time — day or night.

• Eye contact and/or a quick nod is an easy way to confirm that both driver and bicyclist see and acknowledge each other’s presence. 

• Only enter the oncoming travel lane to pass a bicyclist when it is fully visible and free of oncoming traffic. If the oncoming travel lane is not fully visible or free of oncoming traffic, wait until it is to pass.

• Do not drive, park, idle or open doors without looking for bicyclists.

• Take the time to look for people on bikes — and other vulnerable road users — to accurately judge their speed and distance, regardless of the time of day.

• Understand that people on bikes may take the full lane at any time to avoid obstacles, to be more visible, to prepare for a left turn or to discourage drivers from passing when it is not safe. 

For additional guidance on bike safety or how drivers can safely interact with bicyclists on the road, please visit: www.bicyclecolorado.org. For more information on CDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, please visit: www.codot.gov/programs/bikeped.