Colorado Motorcycle Laws
Riding a motorcycle provides an experience unlike any other vehicle on the road. It also requires that a rider have the necessary skill, experience, and equipment. To ensure motorcycle riders’ safety and others’ safety on the road, Colorado state and local municipal laws impose many licensing, equipment, and operating requirements on persons who use their motorcycles on public roads and highways.
At Earl & Earl, PLLC, we understand how these laws can impact a person’s ability to recover rightful compensation when injured in a motorcycle accident due to another person’s negligence. If you have questions about Colorado’s motorcycle laws – and how they might affect your case – you can turn to our legal team for answers. Call or connect with us online today for a free consultation about your case.
Colorado Motorcycle Street Legal Requirements
To lawfully operate a motorcycle on public roads and highways in Colorado, a rider must equip his or her bike with the following:
- At least one and not more than two headlamps that comply with the statutory requirements and limitations applicable to vehicle headlamps
- At least one red tail lamp mounted not less than 20 inches nor more than 72 inches from the ground
- At least one rear reflector
- At least one stop lamp for all motorcycles manufactured after January 1, 1958
- Brakes, equipped to at least one wheel
- A horn that produces an audible sound at a distance of at least 200 feet
- A muffler
- At least one mirror that provides a rear-view distance of at least 200 feet
- Tires approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) for road use
- All manufacturer-installed safety equipment
All the above equipment must remain in good working condition. If a motorcycle carries a passenger, the bike must be equipped with manufacturer-installed separate seat and footrests for the passenger. All motorcycle passengers must sit behind the operator or in a sidecar attached to the motorcycle.
Colorado Motorcycle Helmet Law
Colorado does not require motorcycle riders or passengers to wear helmets unless they are under 18 years old. Motorcycle operators or passengers under 18 must wear a motorcycle helmet approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation. An approved helmet will usually have a DOT sticker. Helmets with certification stickers from reputable independent testing companies, such as ANSI or Snell, will also likely meet USDOT requirements.
All motorcycle operators and passengers are required to wear some form of eye protection. Although the ideal eye protection comes from a visor or face shield on a helmet, goggles or glasses made with safety glass or shatterproof plastic in the lenses may also be used. A windshield on the motorcycle itself does not constitute legal eye protection.
Colorado Motorcycle License and Permit Requirements
A person may lawfully operate a motorcycle only on public roads and highways if they have a valid driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement. Colorado no longer issues separate motorcycle licenses. Colorado gives two types of motorcycle endorsements. A general “M” endorsement permits a licensee to operate two- or three-wheeled motorcycles. A “3” endorsement allows a licensee to drive only a three-wheeled motorcycle.
A person is eligible to apply for a motorcycle endorsement in Colorado if they are at least 16 years old and possess a valid driver’s license. An individual can obtain a motorcycle endorsement in one of two ways:
- Pass the written motorcycle skills exam and get a motorcycle instruction permit. This route allows a person to ride a motorcycle under the supervision of another individual with a valid Colorado license and motorcycle endorsement who is 21 years of age or older. A 15-year-old may apply for a motorcycle instruction permit after completing a motorcycle skills training course. Individuals under the age of 18 must hold a motorcycle instruction permit for at least 12 months before applying for a motorcycle endorsement. Any person holding a motorcycle instruction permit may obtain their endorsement by passing a motorcycle driving skills test.
- Complete an approved motorcycle operator skills training course (MOST). To use this option, a person must be 18 years of age or older. Completing a MOST course acts as a waiver and allows you to add a motorcycle endorsement to your license.
Colorado Motorcycle Parking Laws
In many Colorado municipalities, including Denver, ordinances require motorcycles parked on the street be positioned so they don’t protrude into the roadway or obstruct traffic. For example, Denver’s municipal code requires that a parked motorcycle be angled toward the edge of the road in the direction of lawful traffic. Denver municipal code further permits a motorcycle to be parked in a metered space already occupied by a parked motorcycle.
State law prohibits parking any vehicle, except when necessary to avoid conflict with traffic or at the direction of a police officer:
- On a sidewalk
- Within an intersection
- On a crosswalk
- Between a safety zone and the adjacent curb, or within 30 feet of the curb immediately opposite the end of a safety zone (unless otherwise provided by signs)
- Alongside street construction when doing so would obstruct traffic
- Along the roadway side of a street-parked vehicle
- On a bridge or elevated highway, or inside a highway tunnel
- On railroad tracks
- On any controlled-access highway
- Between roadways on a divided highway
Colorado Lane-Splitting Law
Under Colorado law, a motorcycle can use the entire width of a lane of traffic. The law prohibits motorcycles from lane-splitting, or riding along road lines or in between lanes of traffic. Lane-splitting typically occurs when traffic is stopped or slow-moving.
The law also requires that vehicles passing a motorcycle on the road move entirely over to the adjacent left lane (if legal to do so) when overtaking the motorcycle. The only exception under Colorado law to the prohibition on multiple vehicles sharing the same lane of traffic applies when two motorcycles ride side-by-side in the same traffic lane.
Talk to a Colorado Motorcycle Lawyer Now
If you have questions about the legal requirements for operating a motorcycle in Colorado, or if you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact Earl & Earl, PLLC today. We are ready to provide a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced and dedicated Colorado motorcycle lawyers.
We serve motorcycle accident victims throughout the state from offices in Colorado Springs, Castle Rock, Grand Junction, Denver, and Pueblo.