With its extensive highways and majestic mountain vistas, Colorado offers some spectacular motorcycling opportunities. However, when you ride a motorcycle, there is always the potential for a collision with an automobile. If that occurs, your chances for serious injury or death are generally greater than for the occupant(s) of the other vehicle.

In the interest of preventing accidents, Colorado state law imposes minimum motorcycle safety standards. Understanding and applying these standards could help you avoid an accident as well as trouble with law enforcement.

Traffic laws

When you ride in Colorado, you must operate your bike independently. In other words, you cannot hold onto another vehicle or otherwise connect your motorcycle to it. The term for such actions is clinging, and it is against the law.

If you are riding with another motorcycle, you may “co-ride,” i.e., share the lane side by side. However, if you wish to overtake another vehicle, you must use the passing lane. Colorado state law prohibits the practice of lane splitting, in which you remain in the same lane as the vehicle you are trying to overtake.

Protective gear

All motorcycle riders, including passengers, must use some sort of eye protection besides the windshield. Though eyeglasses or goggles with lenses made of safety glass or plastic are acceptable, the law maintains that a helmet visor is ideal.

Riders who are under the age of 18 must wear helmets bearing the approval of the Department of Transportation. This applies to both operators and passengers. The law does not require helmets for riders age 18 and over but acknowledges helmets’ effectiveness at saving lives in a motorcycle crash.

Passengers

Motorcycle passengers must never sit in front of the driver. They must sit in a sidecar or on a seat behind the driver. You must never carry a passenger on a bike that does not have footrests for the passenger’s use.

Motorcycle laws vary by state. Be sure you know what rules apply on a cross-country trip.