E-Bike Laws in Colorado

Woman riding e-bike on forest trail

Electric bicycles, or “E-Bikes,” have surged in popularity in the last few years. They allow for the scenic views and cardiovascular benefits of a traditional bike, with the convenience and flexibility of a motor. However, these E-bikes are not without risks. It is important to know and adhere to e-bike laws in Colorado in order to avoid a potentially devastating accident. 

What is an E-Bike?

An E-Bike utilizes an electric motor to assist the rider while pedaling. There are three classes of E-Bike that may be found on Colorado roads:

  • Class I E-Bikes have motors that work only while pedaling and up to speeds of 20 mph
  • Class II E-Bikes operate regardless of whether the rider is pedaling, but stop working past 20 mph
  • Class III E-Bikes offer power up to 28 mph whether or not the rider is pedaling. 

All classes of E-bike have fully operational pedals, 2-3 wheels, and a motor that does not exceed 750 watts. 

Where Can You Ride an E-Bike in Colorado?

When the motor is not engaged, you can ride your E-bike on most roads, bike paths, and pedestrian trails in Colorado. You would simply follow the same cycling laws as riding a traditional bicycle in colorado. 

When the motor is engaged, however, you will be more limited as to where you can ride your bike. Class III bikes are permitted only on roadways, never on the sidewalk, on trails, or even in bicycle lanes. 

Class I and II bicycles are permitted in designated bicycle lanes, roadways, and multi-use trails that are also open to non-motorized biking. Check local ordinances to be sure, however. 

Is a Helmet Required for E-Biking?

As a state, Colorado only requires a helmet for class III cycling and for all classes of e-bike for riders under age 18. However, local ordinances may have their own requirements when it comes to required safety equipment for an e-bike. Either way, a helmet is strongly recommended for all forms of cycling, both traditional and electric. 

Do You Need an E-Bike License?

Colorado law does not require a special license, registration, or insurance to operate an e-bike. The only restriction is that Class III e-bike riders must be at least sixteen years of age. 

Colorado E Bike Safety Equipment Requirements

Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-221 sets for the safety equipment regulations for traditional and electric bicycling. These include the following: 

  • A front lamp that emits white light visible from at least 500 feet
  • A red rear reflector visible for at least 600 feet when in front of lower beams of headlamps on a car or other vehicle
  • Reflective material on both sides that is large enough and efficient enough to be seen from 600 feet away when in front of legal lower beams of a motor vehicle’s headlamps OR
  • A lighted lamp that can be seen from both sides at a distance of at least 500 feet
  • A brake or brakes that allow the e-bike to stop within 25 feet on a clean, dry, and level pavement.
  • Class III E-Bikes must have a speedometer that displays, in miles per hour, the speed at which the rider is traveling
  • Class II electric bikes must have a motor that stops functioning when the brakes are applied. 
  • Class I and III electric bikes must have a circuit or other mechanism which cannot be bypassed and that disengages the motor when the rider stops pedaling. 

What If I Am In an Accident?

E bikes are heavier and more difficult to maneuver than traditional bikes, which means there may be greater risk of an accident. In fact, a study found that e-bike riders were more likely than traditional cyclists to suffer internal injuries and require hospitalization when involved in a crash.

If you are in an accident on your e-bike, follow the same steps you would in any other type of motor vehicle or pedestrian accident. First, get to safety and call for medical assistance. Then, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you seek damages for medical bills, property damage, loss of wages, etc. 

David Roth is one of Colorado’s top personal injury and insurance lawyers. He has helped hundreds of clients reach fair settlements for their accidents, both in and out of the courtroom. If you have been involved in an e-bike accident and need to speak to a compassionate and experienced attorney, call or go online today to schedule a free consultation.