Megan Hottman of www.TheCyclist-Lawyer.com
Most counties in Colorado have adopted the “Model Traffic Code for Colorado” (i.e. CO Title 42) for regulation of vehicles and traffic. You can easily google the MTC to read it. Section 1008 governs following too closely, and section 1008.5 governs crowding or threatening a bicyclist. 1401 and 1402 govern careless/reckless driving. 1412 governs operation of bicycles. 1501-1504 govern motorcycles. (Both 1412 and 1504 discuss attaching oneself to another vehicle, so I don’t suggest as a cyclist holding onto the scooter that’s motorpacing you).
The reference to following another vehicle closely states: “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.”
Notice the code section refers specifically to “the driver of a motor vehicle.” (In Colorado a bicycle is treated as a vehicle for legal purposes –See C.R.S. 42-4-1412(1), “every person riding a bicycle shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this article…”). One could argue that a cyclist is a vehicle, not a “motor vehicle” and therefore cannot be guilty of following too closely. One could also argue that since the driver of the scooter and the cyclist are working together, and are obeying the laws, staying over to the right side of the road, and able to communicate with one another, that they are acting, “reasonably and prudently.”
If you are pulled over by a cop who does not buy these arguments, you may be cited/found guilty of a Class A traffic infraction ($15 to $100 fine, plus court costs and 4 points against your driver’s license).
Note: scooters over 50cc require plates, insurance and a motorcycle endorsement on the drivers license. So –don’t motorpace using a larger bike without these things, or else your fines and penalties will be much larger if you’re pulled over. Also note that while helmets are not required in Colorado, it won’t hurt your cause to have the scooter-driver wearing an approved motorcycle helmet (but- one that allows them to hear the cyclist well), and of course the cyclist should also be wearing a helmet. The scooter-driver wearing a bright reflective vest will also help, as would an orange flag on the back of the scooter.
The more the scooter driver and the cyclist look and act SAFE and IN CONTROL, the better the chance they will not be ticketed. What I mean by this is that if the scooter and cyclist are all the way to the right side of the road, if they are constantly aware of cars coming from behind and from the opposite direction, if they yield to traffic and generally conduct themselves in such a way as to avoid disrupting vehicular movement (versus causing a backup of cars behind them), then the police will probably not be too concerned with the activity. It goes without saying that, the less traffic on the road, the better, so choose routes that are on side roads or country roads where traffic will be minimal.
I do NOT recommend motorpacing behind a motor vehicle. My analysis above changes completely. I think drafting behind a car is dangerous because the driver cannot hear the cyclist, and also because traffic is less likely to understand the dynamic- so it is more likely that cars would not pass or would be upset by a car traveling at a speed under the speed limit. It is also harder for other cars to pass a car on narrow roads because the car will take the entire lane, whereas a scooter can squeeze over to the right. I think police are highly likely to ticket a cyclist and/or driver for motorpacing with a vehicle due to safety concerns. It is harder for other cars to see a cyclist following a car closely, so the risk to the cyclist increases significantly when he/she is sitting on the bumper of a car. Bob Mionske covers this topic here: