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Ride on left ?

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Ride on left ?

Old 05-07-20, 03:22 PM
  #1  
schuh8
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Ride on left ?

I've often wondered if riding on the left wouldn't be safer. I've had 2 friends killed by automobiles hitting them from the rear. I know it's probably illegal in most juridictions, but wouldn't riding on the left at lease give you a chance to dodge ?
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Old 05-07-20, 04:16 PM
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Wut
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Old 05-07-20, 04:44 PM
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You would need to get that passed into law in all fifty states. Until then, the point is moot, because it's against the law, and contrary to what drivers are educated to expect.

As for what is safer: Safer is whatever practice is less likely to need to be altered depending on road conditions. If you said "Ride against traffic except when roads are narrow and there's no shoulder", then you introduce confusion, and make it less safe for everyone. The reason that bikes ride with the traffic is because they have rights almost the same as motor vehicles. If they're on a narrow road, where it's unsafe for a car to pass them, they take the lane. How's that going to work when you're riding against the flow of traffic? So now you're in a situation where sometimes it's ok to ride against, and sometimes necessary to ride with the flow. That's a terrible lack of consistency. Your idea would dictate that sometimes the cyclists are supposed to behave like motor vehicles, and sometimes they're supposed to behave completely opposite of motor vehicles. Think about it. It would cost lives.

What happens at intersections? Cyclists would approach stop signs from the opposite side of the road? They would approach traffic lights from the wrong side? They would be getting killed in droves by cars not expecting someone to be coming up from behind as they make a left turn. Cars making a right turn from opposing traffic would also be at risk of hitting you, when they normally may not have any traffic at all to think about. Again, you are asking for trouble.

It may be a little safer on a long straight wide road to be able to see what is coming at you. But if I had to guess where the majority of cycling accidents happen, it's not the long straight wide roads. It's intersections. And your approach makes intersections more dangerous.

Frankly, it's a good thing that for the most part the laws governing cyclists are the same laws that govern all traffic on the roads. What if cyclists were supposed to behave one way, cars another way, and motorcycles a third way? Maybe motorcycles should ride straight down the middle to keep them separate from cars.

Last edited by daoswald; 05-07-20 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 05-07-20, 05:42 PM
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When we were young, we lived in a farming area, and there was only a small number of vehicles going to other farms in the area. We were taught to walk on the opposite side of the road to which vehicles drive, so we could see any vehicles coming.

When cycling, I avoid, or minimize my time on dangerous roads. Some places I don't even go, with some places I use an alternate route, and with others I ride on the sidewalk.
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Old 05-07-20, 05:47 PM
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Illegal here (and everywhere I think) to ride the 'wrong' way on the bike lane but I do it all the time on the sidewalk which makes it a million times easier to deal with people on foot many of whom have on headphones or something else going on. It's legal here but not everywhere.
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Old 05-07-20, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by schuh8 View Post
I've often wondered if riding on the left wouldn't be safer. I've had 2 friends killed by automobiles hitting them from the rear. I know it's probably illegal in most juridictions, but wouldn't riding on the left at lease give you a chance to dodge ?

I think you should ride on the left. Leave the unnecessary risk to the rest of us daredevils.
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Old 05-07-20, 08:29 PM
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The problem with riding on the left side of the road is, that you are riding against the traffic flow... Now on a highway that is not really a problem... But in town, going through intersections it becomes dangerous, because drivers do not look your way, because nobody is supposed to be coming from that direction except pedestians... and yes pedestrian do that all the time but they are slow moving, and drivers are used to them. a Bicyclist coming their way a half a block away does not register in their brain because for that brief instant that the driver may see the bicyclist, it does not register in the brain of the driver that the bicyclist is coming their way... Thus they pull out and merge with the traffic not realising that the bicyclist is now upon them like a pedestrian, and many bicyclist's are expecting to be treated like a pedestrian because they also seem to like riding on the sidewalk like a pedestrian, and think they have the rights to be allowed through like a pedestrian... So, "if you are riding the wrong way" you need to act like a pedestrian and slow down to pedestrian speeds to be safe... IMO, after having 3 bicyclist's nearly T-Bone me in my car at the same intersection...

Last edited by 350htrr; 05-07-20 at 08:33 PM.
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Old 05-08-20, 05:27 AM
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Bad idea to ride facing traffic. If a collision were to happen the impact would be far greater as the closing speed would be much higher. Let's take a bicycle traveling at 10 mph and a car travelling at 40 miles per hour. If the tow are travelling in the same direction the closing speed is 40 - 10 = 30 mph. Plus If the two are approaching each other the closing speed is 40 + 10 = 50 mph. So riding against traffic is almost doubling the closing speed.

Cheers
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Old 05-08-20, 06:24 AM
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Move to the UK.
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Old 05-08-20, 08:17 AM
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You could always just get a mirror...
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Old 05-08-20, 12:03 PM
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I don't think it would be worse at intersections, if anything better because the biggest problem I always have is people wanting to turn right through my body. It is a good point it is not compatible if bikes want to go on the road though.
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Old 05-09-20, 12:50 PM
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Walking and cycling are different in a couple ways. First, walking is slower, so the speed difference between you and a car is pretty much the same in either direction. Second, walking is inherently all-terrain for most of us, and reacting to cars means getting off the road, pronto, if necessary.

With cycling, riding against traffic would mean that the reaction time is less, and a cyclist may have fewer options for reacting to an oncoming car, depending on terrain and skill.

While I ride with traffic, I ride the way that I walk, meaning that I'm prepared to make a hasty exit from the roadway at any moment. I'd rather contend with the ditch, than with the business end of a truck.
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Old 05-10-20, 08:48 PM
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If I am riding somewhere with regular traffic, I stay on the right or the sidewalk. If traffic is very light (no more than a car every 5 minutes or so) I will rise on the left and move to the right in the event of a hill preventing forward visibility or an oncoming car. I figure, the less disrupt drivers, the less I get swerved at.
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Old 05-11-20, 08:40 AM
  #14  
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I just love when an oncoming rider is riding against traffic when I'm riding with traffic. One of us has to move into traffic to pass one another. I've yet to see someone riding against traffic make that move, they just trudge along on forcing the "legal" rider into traffic. Yep, riding against traffic sure is the safer solution.
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Old 05-11-20, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by FiftySix View Post
I just love when an oncoming rider is riding against traffic when I'm riding with traffic. One of us has to move into traffic to pass one another. I've yet to see someone riding against traffic make that move, they just trudge along on forcing the "legal" rider into traffic. Yep, riding against traffic sure is the safer solution.
That's called "taking the lane."
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Old 05-11-20, 04:11 PM
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Do the math. Ride 20mph with traffic going 30mph: speed differential is 10mph. Ride 20mph against traffic going 30mph: speed differential is 50mph.

If you had to be hit by a car, would you prefer 10mph or 50mph?

Last edited by caloso; 05-12-20 at 12:10 AM.
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Old 05-11-20, 05:03 PM
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I was almost hit by a cyclist running on the wrong side of the road in the bike lane. I had to scream at him to move to his own lane as he didn't move (and he could certainly see me I run decent lights that are hard to miss). There were directional arrows and everything. He was mad at me for following normal traffic laws and a very clear bike lane with clear arrows going the same way I was going.

Please do not be a salmon. If you are looking to be safe, make sure you use good bright lights (not little cheap dinky lights that are the size of a thumb) at the front (solid always) and rear (blinking OK) and take your lane as needed with confidence. If you are really not confident at riding in the road you might find an empty grassy field and ride around that because riding on the road going the wrong way makes it unsafe for everyone including yourself.
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Old 05-11-20, 05:52 PM
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It is smart to be as predictable as possible. If you follow the rules, you will normally do what motorists expect you to do. If you do something motorists don't expect you to do, you are much more likely to be involved in a collision.
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Old 05-11-20, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by FiftySix View Post
I just love when an oncoming rider is riding against traffic when I'm riding with traffic. One of us has to move into traffic to pass one another. I've yet to see someone riding against traffic make that move, they just trudge along on forcing the "legal" rider into traffic. Yep, riding against traffic sure is the safer solution.
Or you could just stop and let him go around however he wants. Not being flippant, but this is a good idea a lot of the time when people are being idiots. Let him be the one to go into traffic or else he can just sit and wait.
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Old 05-12-20, 03:59 PM
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I think riding on the left leads to a lot of close calls, which reinforces the feeling that one should ride on the left to spot trouble.
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Old 05-12-20, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Oneder View Post
Or you could just stop and let him go around however he wants. Not being flippant, but this is a good idea a lot of the time when people are being idiots. Let him be the one to go into traffic or else he can just sit and wait.
Yeah, I'm already moving on to plan A, B, or C before that cyclist gets near me. They will get a shout out that "YOU'RE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD" from me, though.

But most cyclists on the wrong side of the road around here are immigrants pedaling to work. Odds are that they don't know exactly what I'm saying.
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Old 05-13-20, 07:57 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Do the math. Ride 20mph with traffic going 30mph: speed differential is 10mph. Ride 20mph against traffic going 30mph: speed differential is 50mph.

If you had to be hit by a car, would you prefer 10mph or 50mph?
additionally, the slower closing speed gives a lot more reaction time to avoid the collision.
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Old 05-14-20, 06:16 AM
  #23  
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Besides being (technically) illegal, riding against traffic is effing stupid in most circumstances.

At every intersection, driveway, cross walk, etc. - which way are drivers and pedestrians entering the roadway looking? Towards oncoming traffic, not towards you.
Which way are road signs, traffic lights etc. pointed? Towards oncoming traffic, not towards you.
Coming around a blind corner on the wrong side - how does riding against traffic affect the available reaction time for you and any oncoming driver?
You are riding head-on at other cyclists who are riding legally and safely.

If safety dictates I will, on rare occasions, ride for short distances, very carefully, against traffic. But as a general rule, no.
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Old 05-14-20, 06:58 AM
  #24  
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As a side note, OP is 'statistically interesting' ...
first, sadly, knowing _two_ people killed on bike by cars is very rare.
even further, knowing two that were killed from the rear is very very rare.
for more info on bike crashes, here is some data that all of us can learn from:
https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api...ication/812507

Last edited by blacknbluebikes; 05-14-20 at 07:01 AM.
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Old 05-14-20, 07:49 AM
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Just happens this same debate is taking place on our local NextDoor app.

Did everybody miss the bike safety day in Third Grade when the State trooper came to school and taught us the rules of the road?
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