What to Know about Electric Bikes in Colorado

electric bike accidents

Written by Jeremy D. Earle, JD

January 9, 2023

Best Colorado Bicycle Accident Lawyers

Some Frequently Asked Questions About Colorado’s Electric Bicycle Laws

Electrically assisted bicycles are becoming more prevalent on bike lanes, sidewalks, and even beaches. They come in various shapes and sizes and are referred to as Pedego, Prodeco, Haibike, and Rad.

There are commuting bikes, mountain bikes, and even folding bikes available. The one thing that all of these rapidly growing electric bikes have in common is that they are pedal-assisted and are classed as bicycles in Colorado. That is, as long as they do not exceed a peak speed of 20 miles per hour. Several commonly asked questions are included below:

A lawsuit for an e-bike accident claims damages against the person or corporation responsible for the rider of an electric bicycle’s injuries. These cases are often filed against the negligent driver, biker, or pedestrian. However, claims for product responsibility may be launched against the maker of the e-bike.

Although the first patents for electric bikes (e-bikes) date back to the 1890s, they have just recently grown in popularity in the United States—and show no signs of slowing down.

Indeed, the Colorado Department of Transportation reports that e-bikes are “on the verge of a boom, “1 but regrettably, the increased number of e-bikes on the road has increased accidents.

Lyft, the transportation network firm, even briefly halted e-bike sharing plans in three locations in April 2019 after complaints of accidents.

When anything goes wrong with an e-bike, persons harmed may be entitled to compensation for the following:

Electric bike accident attorneys can assist victims in obtaining compensation for significant or catastrophic injuries.

What is an electric bicycle?

An electric bike, or e-bike, is powered by an electric motor and rechargeable batteries instead of a standard bicycle, which is pushed purely by the rider’s pedaling.

The location and power of the motor vary for each e-bike, and batteries often need recharging after 20 to 100 kilometers. E-bikes exist in various configurations depending on how they are operated; some need pedaling while others do not.

What are the e-bike rules in Colorado?

In 2015, the Colorado government-approved Assembly Bill 1096,2 categorizes e-bikes according to their top speed and mode of operation. According to Colorado legislation, there are three types of e-bikes: Class 1: bikes with a top aided speed of 20 mph that must be pedaled, Class 2: bikes with a peak assisted speed of 20 mph that do not need pedaling, and Class 3: bikes with a top helped the speed of 28 mph.

As one of the most progressive e-bike regulations in the US, AB-1096 permits Class 3 e-bikes to ride in bike lanes on public roadways, while Class 1 and 2 e-bikes may ride on multi-use routes unless municipal ordinances ban them. Class 3 operators must be at least sixteen years old, and all riders under the age of eighteen must wear a bicycle helmet that is properly fitted and attached.

In Colorado, e-bikes are not classified as motor vehicles, so riders do not need a specific license to drive them. E-bikes do not need state registration and do not require liability insurance. And however certain insurance plans may cover injuries caused by accidents involving e-bikes.

Notably, Colorado enables cities and counties to enact additional restrictions governing e-bikes; thus, if you operate an e-bike, you should always ensure that you comply with relevant municipal law.

Municipalities may enact rules regulating the use of e-bikes in bicycle lanes, pathways, and trails. For example, San Francisco3 forbids all bicycles on sidewalks unless the rider is 13 years old or younger.

The Colorado Department of Transportation expects most e-bike users to adhere to the same safety precautions as traditional bicycle riders.

What are the most often occurring injuries linked with e-bikes?

Typical electric bicycle collisions often include other e-bikes, vehicles, or people, and the resulting injuries may be severe, even deadly. Because e-bikes are heavier and quicker than traditional bicycles, the impact force of an e-bike on a pedestrian may be between four and forty-five times greater.

The following are some of the most prevalent forms of injuries linked with e-bikes:

  • Head injuries, particularly traumatic brain injury (TBI);
  • Back and spinal cord injuries;
  • Broken bones;

Who is liable in the event of an e-bike accident?

When e-bike accidents occur, plaintiffs may be able to sue several parties for compensation. Among the persons who may be held accountable in personal injury claims involving e-bikes are the following:

  • Drivers of motor vehicles
  • Operators of other e-bikes
  • Pedestrians

If a defect in the e-bike caused your accident, you might also be entitled to sue the manufacturer for product responsibility under one or more of the following theories:

  • Defective design: a defect in the bike’s construction,
  • Defective manufacture: despite the bike’s safe design, something during the manufacturing
  • process rendered it
  • Mislabeling or inadequate warnings: the manufacturer failed to appropriately warn consumers
  • about the hazards associated with e-bike

How can I file a lawsuit for an e-bike accident?

The first step in filing an e-bike lawsuit is to contact a personal injury attorney who will listen to your tale and assist you in collecting evidence to determine if you have a viable case. If you do, your lawyer will file a complaint outlining your injuries and requesting compensation from the court for your damages, which may include:

  • Medical treatment reimbursement;
  • Anticipated future medical costs;
  • Lost wages during your recovery;
  • Reduced earning capacity due to long-term effects of your injuries;
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering; and
  • Loss of companionship.

The defendant is then given a chance to reply to the complaint, and unless the other party agrees to pay you a specified amount of money, the matter will go to discovery.

During this time, both parties produce documents and other evidence in support of their positions, as well as conduct depositions of all parties, including any potential expert witnesses, treating physicians and other medical personnel, and anyone else whose testimony may be relevant to your accident claim.

If your action proceeds to trial after different motions to dismiss or summary judgment, a jury will hear both sides and render a verdict. If the court grants you damages, your attorney will assist you in collecting them expeditiously.

Is a license required to ride an electric bicycle in Colorado?

No. While using an electric bike in Colorado does not need a license, riders must be 16 years old. Is it necessary to register and plate an electric bike?

Electric bicycles with a peak speed of less than 20 mph are exempt from registration and license plate requirements.

Is it mandatory for me to wear a helmet?

Although no helmet is required, wearing one is always a prudent option, as with any bicycle. Protective clothing such as long trousers and over-the-ankle shoes is also recommended.

Is insurance necessary to drive an electric bicycle in Colorado?

Electric bicycles are not required to be insured in Colorado. However, some insurance providers offer coverage for theft and damage to the bike. When you consider that some electric motorcycles may cost up to $20,000 or more, insurance the bike makes sense.

Liability insurance covers both bodily injury and property damage. In the event of an injury, personal medical insurance is also available, as is car contact insurance in a collision with another car.

How long can an electric bicycle ride before it has to be recharged?

The majority of electric bicycles are equipped with a pedal-assist mechanism that charges the battery. Optional settings enable the bike to run entirely on electric, pedal-assisted, or pedal power alone. Without a charge, the electric motor’s typical range is roughly 25 miles.

This will vary according to the model. The batteries are rechargeable lithium-ion, and the motor has an average power output of roughly 300 watts. It may take up to three or four hours to completely recharge the battery.

What if I purchase an electric-assisted bicycle capable of speeds exceeding 20 miles per hour?

Colorado law limits the highest speed of an electric bicycle to 20 miles per hour. Any electrically assisted pedal bike that surpasses the 30 mph maximum speed limit is classified as a Class E moped and requires a license and registration.

Class E bicycles are only permitted on sidewalks when pedaled. There are high-performance variants that achieve speeds of up to 80 miles per hour and are categorized as motorbikes.

In Colorado, are I authorized to ride my electric bike on the road?

Electric bicycles are permitted on Colorado’s roadways. As with other vehicles, riders must respect traffic regulations, including maintaining a right turn, observing stop signs, and signaling turns.

Can I be charged with a DUI if I ride an electric bike while intoxicated?

DUI rules in Colorado apply to all vehicles, including bicycles. Bicycles with electric assist are no exception. The same consequences, including license suspension, fines, and possibly prison time, may be imposed.

What should I do if I am wounded in an accident caused by another motorist or bad road maintenance?

Seek emergency medical treatment. Ascertain the identities of any witnesses and, if feasible, photograph the whole situation. Not comment on anybody claiming to represent the other party’s insurance company. To learn more about your legal possibilities after a bicycle accident, contact a bicycle accident attorney.

The Warrior Bicycle Accident Lawyers has successfully represented several bicycle accident victims in Colorado Springs and across the state of Colorado. If you have been hurt while riding a bicycle or motorbike, contact Warrior Bicycle Accident Lawyers at 719-300-1100 for a free, no-obligation examination of your case.

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