Rules and Tips for Safe Riding

Two bicyclists riding down a road

Whether you’re traveling on the road or on the trails, safety is a shared responsibility for everyone. On the road, bicycle riders are particularly vulnerable to injuries in the event of a crash with a motor vehicle, so it is important to ride defensively. Below are some tips to keep you safe on two wheels.

Safe Riding on the Road

  • Be predictable. Make your intentions clear to everyone on the road by signaling your turn movements, riding in a straight line whenever possible, and avoiding swerving between or out from behind parked cars or other obstacles.
  • Follow the law. Bicycles are held to the same rules and regulations as motor vehicles, with the exception of the Colorado Safety Stop law passed in April 2022. This law enables bicyclists ages 15 and over to a) pass through a stop sign at a slow roll after yielding to those with the right-of-way and b) treat a red light as a stop sign by coming to a complete stop and then proceeding through the intersection if there is no oncoming cross-traffic.
  • Be as visible as possible. Colorado law requires that bicyclists riding at night have a headlight, a rear reflector, and a reflector or light that is visible from both sides. At any time of day, ride where people can see you and try to make eye contact before crossing or changing direction. Remember that bicyclists are legally allowed to ride in the center of the lane for any reason, including to increase their own visibility in otherwise unsafe situations.
  • Wear a helmet! Though bicyclists age 18 and over are not legally required to wear helmets in Colorado, helmets are proven to help reduce the severity of a potential head injury in the event of a crash and could save your life.
  • Anticipate driver behavior and don’t assume everyone sees you. Watch for turning vehicles from every direction when you cross through an intersection, and ride outside the door zone of parked cars when possible.
  • Avoid riding against traffic. All bike lanes in Lakewood are for one-way travel in the same direction as the adjacent travel lane. Though shared use paths (including sidewalks) allow travel in both directions, try to ride with traffic whenever possible to avoid a crash with a motorist who may only look in one direction for motorized oncoming traffic before crossing your path. Be aware that bicycles move much quicker than pedestrians, so even motorists who have checked for incoming pedestrians may not see you coming from further away.
  • Be aware. Avoid distractions while riding, including listening to music or using your cell phone.
  • Ride where you feel safe. Unlike some neighboring municipalities, Lakewood allows bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk for any reason. If a segment of road feels dangerous, you can opt for the sidewalk instead; just be sure to be courteous and yield to pedestrians.

Safe Riding on the Trails

  • Slow down! The speed limit on all Lakewood trails and shared use paths (including sidewalks) is 15 mph. Slow down on bends, street or trail crossings, under/over bridges, and in areas with a high volume of pedestrians.
  • Communicate when you intend to pass another trail user using a bell or a polite verbal call out (e.g. “On your left!”). Pass slowly on the left, giving the other trail user 3 feet of space if possible.
  • Yield to all pedestrians and equestrians. Be prepared to stop if necessary, especially if you are passing a trail user who did not hear your call out or a dog on a leash that may suddenly dart into your path.
  • Ride single file and to the right to allow other trail users to pass on your left. 

Bicycle-Friendly Driving

Even when you’re not riding a bicycle, you can do your part to keep bicyclists safe on Lakewood roads.

  • Look both ways for incoming bicyclists when turning or crossing the road. Remember, they might be on the sidewalk!
  • Give bicycles 3 feet of space when passing—it’s the law in Colorado. Crossing the double yellow line is permitted when necessary to give cyclists enough space, as long as there is no oncoming traffic.
  • Check your side mirrors and look over your right shoulder for approaching cyclists before you make a right turn, especially on roads with a bike lane.
  • Observe all posted speed limits. In the event of a crash, lower speeds are much less likely to cause serious bodily injury.
  • Don’t park or stop your car in a bike lane for any amount of time. Even just a quick stop to drop off a passenger or check your map could force a bicyclist to leave the bike lane and merge with traffic, which creates a dangerous and frustrating situation for both the bicyclist and any cars coming up behind them. Plus, it’s against Lakewood City Ordinance 10.36.070 and could cost you a fine of up to $200.
  • Look over your left shoulder for approaching bicyclists before exiting your parked vehicle whenever you park on the street, especially if there is a bike lane next to the parking lane.
  • Don’t drive distracted. Bicycles are capable of sudden movements and can sometimes be hidden from view, so it is important to always be aware of your surroundings.