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Old 04-30-10, 11:12 AM   #1
vic damone
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Riding Against Traffic

In California in the 1950's we were schooled to ride against traffic with special attention to vehicles driving out of cross streets and driveways turning right crossing our path (since the driver is generally looking to their left). I never paid any attention to the fact that ridding on the left allowed you to view everything coming at you. The only down side was stopping for drivers at cross streets and driveways.

At some point California Code had finally been written or revised that required riding with the flow of traffic. I recall how sensible it felt to ride with the flow as a defined vehicle with almost the same rights. Since then I've been seriously rear ended twice and turned into many times as I'm sure many have.

I've since moved to Danville Ca. a very bike friendly laid out community with a large SUV population. There are a few 45MPH (45-60MPH actual speeds) four lane boulevards with luxurious 6'-10' marked bike lanes which are swept weekly, very nice. Still, with this huge buffer of space I've touched paint on a number of occasions well into the bike lane with preoccupied drivers.

Since last fall I've been riding against traffic only on these boulevards and while it's wrong it feels so safe. I've already avoided three serious incidents of preoccupied drivers drifting into the bike lane. There is no way I could track these drivers so clearly with a mirror and afford myself the time for the up on the curb evasive action needed for one incident in particular.

I'd appreciate your comments and experience, thanks.
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Old 04-30-10, 12:46 PM   #2
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It scares me to ride against traffic, I've done if for a few feet waiting to cross the road. The cars feel so much closer. Car's don't normally look right for traffic before turning right. And I can't move into traffic if I need to. And it's illegal.
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Old 04-30-10, 12:51 PM   #3
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It's just an all around bad idea. Not only are you a danger to youself with automobile traffic, you are a danger to any rider riding legally in the bike lane.
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Old 04-30-10, 01:49 PM   #4
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Motorists aren't looking for traffic going the wrong direction so accidents may be 3.6 times more likely than going with the flow of traffic.

If there is an accident, it'll be much worse with traffic the wrong way. Going the right way, a 45 MPH rear-end collision may mean a 30MPH speed difference. Head-on it's a 60 MPH difference.

Ride the right way.
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Old 04-30-10, 01:57 PM   #5
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STOP it!

You're being a hazard to your fellow cyclists, motor traffic, and yourself.
Always ride with traffic.
There's no valid argument to do otherwise.
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Old 04-30-10, 02:38 PM   #6
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Riding against traffic is the quickest way, short of doing the same thing in the dark without lights or reflectors, to get somebody to organize a Ride of Silence in your memory.

http://www.RideofSilence.org
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Old 04-30-10, 02:49 PM   #7
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If you've 'touched paint' a 'number of occasions' in what seems to be a relatively short period you need to reassess what you are doing.
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Old 04-30-10, 02:53 PM   #8
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If you're going to be a bike salmon I hope you at least yield to your fellow cyclists who are correctly, safely, legally, and sensibly riding with traffic.
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Old 04-30-10, 03:13 PM   #9
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Think of an intersection and somebody turning right at a stop sign or a red light. They don't often look to the right when turning right. If you ride against traffic in the perpendicular lane (their turn lane) you would REALLY be putting yourself in danger by not only their inattentiveness.....but their close proximity to your bike as they turn somewhat blindly into your path.
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Old 04-30-10, 03:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
The cars feel so much closer. Car's don't normally look right for traffic before turning right.
Sorry, I didn't see your points earlier.
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Old 04-30-10, 03:56 PM   #11
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interesting post
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Old 04-30-10, 04:37 PM   #12
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Am I the only one who thinks it's weird that Vic Damone has a join date from 5 years ago but this is his first post?
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Old 04-30-10, 04:39 PM   #13
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Am I the only one who thinks it's weird that Vic Damone has a join date from 5 years ago but this is his first post?
He just is very slow when typing.
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Old 04-30-10, 07:35 PM   #14
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A very interesting post. What do you suppose ever happened to that person from a few years back, who advocated riding against traffic, and also claimed (providing no proof whatsoever) that his father invented smoke detectors?
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Old 04-30-10, 07:47 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vic damone View Post
In California in the 1950's we were schooled to ride against traffic with special attention to vehicles driving out of cross streets and driveways turning right crossing our path (since the driver is generally looking to their left). I never paid any attention to the fact that ridding on the left allowed you to view everything coming at you. The only down side was stopping for drivers at cross streets and driveways.

At some point California Code had finally been written or revised that required riding with the flow of traffic. I recall how sensible it felt to ride with the flow as a defined vehicle with almost the same rights. Since then I've been seriously rear ended twice and turned into many times as I'm sure many have.

I've since moved to Danville Ca. a very bike friendly laid out community with a large SUV population. There are a few 45MPH (45-60MPH actual speeds) four lane boulevards with luxurious 6'-10' marked bike lanes which are swept weekly, very nice. Still, with this huge buffer of space I've touched paint on a number of occasions well into the bike lane with preoccupied drivers.

Since last fall I've been riding against traffic only on these boulevards and while it's wrong it feels so safe. I've already avoided three serious incidents of preoccupied drivers drifting into the bike lane. There is no way I could track these drivers so clearly with a mirror and afford myself the time for the up on the curb evasive action needed for one incident in particular.

I'd appreciate your comments and experience, thanks.
I have some bad news for you vic. you are what is known as a "salmon". even worse, you have entered that all important stage of your life when the idea of "swimming upstream" seems like the best option for you. I'm sorry to tell you this vic, but this most definitely means the end is near. It is time for you to find a female salmon that will let you spray your milky seed on her clutch of eggs, and then cover them up with a shallow layer of gravel so that one day soon, baby salmon (alevins) can be born, and make their journey to the sea.

Did I forget to mention what was going to happen to you in the meanwhile? you're going to die, and you're eyes are going to be pecked out of your skull by seagulls, or maybe a hungry eagle if you're lucky. What can I say? So is the life of Salmon.
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Old 04-30-10, 08:24 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
Motorists aren't looking for traffic going the wrong direction so accidents may be 3.6 times more likely than going with the flow of traffic.
Ya sure it isn't 4.6 times, or maybe it was 6.3, or maybe it was .0123? Maybe you better check your dream book for today's number.
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Old 04-30-10, 08:57 PM   #17
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Yes, this is my first post since joining. Weird? OK. I type reasonably well it's the spell checking that I spend a lot of time with.

I apologize if this subject seems somewhat trollish but I've been able to avoid a few sketchy moments in the short time I've been doing this on the few roads I feel a danger. In 1973 I was hit from behind stopped at a red light with one foot on the curb. Low speed collision, no injury but my beloved Grand Criterium was totaled. Once again in 1992 at the back of a six rider group riding legally in a marked bike lane in a 25 MPH zone. Recently a women texting in an Escalade drifted well into the bike lane and brushed my shoulder with the passenger side mirror. My scariest incident occurred last week on a straight stretch 45 MPH zone. A gentleman in a large Benz sedan reading a document and holding the steering wheel with his left hand and a cell with his right. He suddenly entered the bike lane contacting the curb with his passenger side tire. I avoided this driver by bunny hopping the curb. Had I been riding legally with the flow of traffic I'd be...well you get the picture.

Hand held cell phone usage and texting are illegal in this State but the entitlement that many drivers feel they have is simply stunning to me.


Quote:
The cars feel so much closer. Car's don't normally look right for traffic before turning right.
The cars ARE actually further away because of my tendency to steer away from the on coming traffic. Yes, drivers do look left before beginning their right turn. Even with eye contact I stop and let the driver make the turn. This is one of the few downsides.


Motorists aren't looking for traffic going the wrong direction so accidents may be 3.6 times more likely than going with the flow of traffic.
If there is an accident, it'll be much worse with traffic the wrong way. Going the right way, a 45 MPH rear-end collision may mean a 30MPH speed difference. Head-on it's a 60 MPH difference.

3.6? Where can I find this stat? The difference in impact speed is compelling but, IMO, much more avoidable than being rear ended.


You're being a hazard to your fellow cyclists, motor traffic, and yourself.
There's no valid argument to do otherwise.

Actually, the majority of the time I'm able give full berth to oncoming cyclist by ridding in the vacant traffic lane. When this isn't possible I simply stop at the curb as these are very wide bike lanes.


If you've 'touched paint' a 'number of occasions' in what seems to be a relatively short period you need to reassess what you are doing.

Thank you, that's exactly what I'm trying to do.
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Old 04-30-10, 09:03 PM   #18
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Wow, just wow. Incidentally, while working I nearly got hit by a car-salmon yesterday. Didn't even know that existed...
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Old 05-01-10, 01:32 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vic damone View Post
In California in the 1950's we were schooled to ride against traffic with special attention to vehicles driving out of cross streets and driveways turning right crossing our path (since the driver is generally looking to their left). I never paid any attention to the fact that ridding on the left allowed you to view everything coming at you. The only down side was stopping for drivers at cross streets and driveways.

At some point California Code had finally been written or revised that required riding with the flow of traffic. I recall how sensible it felt to ride with the flow as a defined vehicle with almost the same rights. Since then I've been seriously rear ended twice and turned into many times as I'm sure many have.

I've since moved to Danville Ca. a very bike friendly laid out community with a large SUV population. There are a few 45MPH (45-60MPH actual speeds) four lane boulevards with luxurious 6'-10' marked bike lanes which are swept weekly, very nice. Still, with this huge buffer of space I've touched paint on a number of occasions well into the bike lane with preoccupied drivers.

Since last fall I've been riding against traffic only on these boulevards and while it's wrong it feels so safe. I've already avoided three serious incidents of preoccupied drivers drifting into the bike lane. There is no way I could track these drivers so clearly with a mirror and afford myself the time for the up on the curb evasive action needed for one incident in particular.

I'd appreciate your comments and experience, thanks.
I have a nice 2 - 2 1/2" mirror on my helmet and I am able to track approaching traffic and if needed make defensive moves, as I am sure the vast majority of other mirror users on this site. Maybe you need to practice more with your mirror to build up the skill set needed to track and react to traffic approaching you from behind.

It would be a very rare and very limited occasion for me to ride either a sidewalk or as a salmon. And unless all of my batteries "decided" to "die" on me all at once I will never be a ninja.

What exactly were you doing when you "touch/traded" paint? And had you had a mirror and learned how to use it you would have avoided some of your close calls. Only once in my entire life of riding and that includes the vast majority of my adult life I have only been hit from behind once. And considering that I just recently turn 46 and only being rear-ended once I'd say that those are some pretty good odds.
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Old 05-01-10, 07:53 AM   #20
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I have some bad news for you vic. you are what is known as a "salmon". even worse, you have entered that all important stage of your life when the idea of "swimming upstream" seems like the best option for you. I'm sorry to tell you this vic, but this most definitely means the end is near. It is time for you to find a female salmon that will let you spray your milky seed on her clutch of eggs, and then cover them up with a shallow layer of gravel so that one day soon, baby salmon (alevins) can be born, and make their journey to the sea.

Did I forget to mention what was going to happen to you in the meanwhile? you're going to die, and you're eyes are going to be pecked out of your skull by seagulls, or maybe a hungry eagle if you're lucky. What can I say? So is the life of Salmon.
Actually, it ends up as Smoked Salmon, packaged and ready for me to eat.

Back on topic: I grew up in the 60's, and it seems many kids of that time were given a lot of misinformation about bicycling by well-meaning, but very misguided authority figures, such as parents, school officials, scout leaders, etc. Undoing this cycle of misinformation is a monumental challenge. i.e. "You should ride facing traffic, so you can see the cars!!" Or, "You should only ride on the sidewalk!!" My personal favorite: It came with reflectors, so I don't need lights!

Vic, you need to read John Allen's "Street Smarts". Mr. Allen is a well-known expert in the field of bicycle safety. He has posted this work on-line right here. You should also read California's bicycle laws.

Riding against traffic is in fact the fastest way,, to the cemetery.
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Old 05-01-10, 08:09 AM   #21
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If you've 'touched paint' a 'number of occasions' in what seems to be a relatively short period you need to reassess what you are doing.
Thank you, that's exactly what I'm trying to do.
It sounds more as if you came here to tell us what you want to do.

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Old 05-01-10, 08:14 AM   #22
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I recently tried a couple miles of counter-flow riding just to see what I felt like.

Frightening!
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Old 05-01-10, 09:44 AM   #23
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I'm curious what the op's average speed is. One of the topics we have discussed locally is having the bicycle designated a dual mode vehicle/pedestrian the same as a Segway is. That is to say at a slow and cautious speed bicycles can safely operate as a pedestrian.
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Old 05-01-10, 12:27 PM   #24
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Riding against traffic is in fact the fastest way,, to the cemetery.
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I recently tried a couple miles of counter-flow riding just to see what I felt like.

Frightening!
Oy!! The Drama!! Are you fellows really that helpless when cycling?
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Old 05-01-10, 12:42 PM   #25
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I don' t know which I dislike more - bike salmon or the term "bike salmon" . Rear end collisions are actually pretty rare. I find I can pretty much tell by sound how close a car is going to buzz me and I regularily shoulder check, and I really don't worry about being rear ended. Mind you I am mostly on normal speed city streets, and I'm not sure I would be as confident on a higher speed road.

However I find wrong way cyclists very irritating and dangerous to me as another cyclist. I don't want to be forced into traffic to avoid them (let them veer out into the street - at least they can see what's coming!), I don't want to guess if they are going to pass to my left or right, and I don't particularily want to slow or stop every time one approaches.

Even on one way streets where the wrong way cyclists are on the other side from me, they create a hazard for me as they push my overtaking traffic to the right and closer to me.

They should get the Hell off the road until they learn to ride properly.
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