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Driving on the left?

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Driving on the left?

Old 07-20-10, 07:45 AM
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RGS
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Driving on the left?

In my city, two bicyclists have been killed in traffic accidents over the weekend. This brings to mind a question I have had for years.

When driving a car, one of the most tense moments is when I pass a bike. I do not know if the rider knows I'm there and worry that he/she may veer farther into the lane without warning. It also seems to take a long time to pass a bike because we're both going the same way. It's even worse on narrow two lane roads.

As a child, I was taught to walk on the left side of the street so I could face oncoming traffic and see what was happening. This seems to me to also be a safer way to ride a bike. The eye contact between the two drivers would make everyone safer and they would pass each other and return to normal driving much sooner. Anyone know why this is not considered as a solution to bicycle traffic problems?

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Old 07-20-10, 07:56 AM
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Because its statistically more dangerous. Going the same direction, youd pass at almost the same speed in alot of areas. So if you hit them it would be at 5 mph difference. Lets say hes going 20 and you 30. Thats a 10 mph collision. Flip it where hes coming at you, 20 mph and you 30mph. Thats 50mph impact. Ouch.
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Old 07-20-10, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by RGS View Post
In my city, two bicyclists have been killed in traffic accidents over the weekend. This brings to mind a question I have had for years.

As a child, I was taught to walk on the left side of the street so I could face oncoming traffic and see what was happening. This seems to me to also be a safer way to ride a bike. The eye contact between the two drivers would make everyone safer and they would pass each other and return to normal driving much sooner. Anyone know why this is not considered as a solution to bicycle traffic problems?
Traffic law in all states requires pedestrians, in the absence of a sidewalk or separate path, to walk or run on the side of the road facing traffic.

When you get on a bicycle, the rules change. You are now the driver or operator of a wheeled vehicle, and so now to are subject to vehicular traffic law. The Uniform Traffic Code, as well as the law in every state gives bicyclists all the rights, and all of the duties and responsibilities of vehicle drivers. That means you ride with the flow of traffic. Ride on the right side of the road (unless you live and ride in either the United Kingdom, Australia, or Japan), never on the left, and stay off the sidewalks.

Riding on the left, against the flow of traffic, places you in a position where other drivers do not expect to encounter oncoming traffic. They're not looking for you to be there. You can't see the traffic signs or traffic signals. And you interfere with the flow of legally operating traffic. Simply said, it's the best, quickest way to get into a collision with either a motor vehicle or another cyclist.
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Old 07-20-10, 09:43 AM
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Crash rates are several times higher for cyclists traveling contra-flow than for cyclists traveling in the same direction as other traffic. This is true even for cyclists on sidewalks - turning drivers aren't looking for them.

Interestingly, crash rates are also higher for pedestrians walking contra-flow compared to those walking with the flow of vehicular traffic, at least in urban areas. Drivers are more likely to see them if they are coming from the same direction that other vehicular traffic is.

The requirement that pedestrians face traffic when walking in a roadway or a narrow shoulder has some merit at night, when drivers often cannot see pedestrians (who don't use reflectors and lights) and therefore it's helpful for pedestrians walking in the roadway to be able to see when they need to take evasive action to protect themselves.

Some pedestrians, especially children, might also move further into the roadway suddenly without looking back for overtaking traffic. Facing traffic may help reduce this risk in some places, at least if the intersection density is low enough that the increased hazard of contra-flow walking at intersections does not overwhelm it.

Cycling safety experts stress that all cyclists, including children, must develop the habit of looking back over their shoulder before moving laterally on the roadway, and should ride far enough from hazards at the edge of the pavement that they eliminate emergency maneuvers that would cause them to swerve suddenly farther into the roadway. Cyclists who follow these practices do not collide with drivers who overtake them at a safe distance. Daytime overtaking collisions on wide roads are extremely rare; most overtaking collisions involve narrow roads where drivers attempt to pass without changing lanes, at too close distance. If the lane is narrow, car drivers should change lanes to pass; many cyclists will ride in the center of narrow lanes to reinforce this requirement. The rest of the overtaking collisions in the crash data are mostly drunk and texting drivers.

Is RGS still with us, or was this just a troll?

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Old 07-20-10, 11:25 AM
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I grew up in a rural area with some higher speed roads, no paved shoulders and thick grassy road edgeway which was not good for walking. As a kid my dad taught us to walk against traffic and to be visible in the roadway. When a vehicle approached you could then take note if they saw you when they moved left or if they did not you had plenty of time to step off the roadway. He modeled walking well into the roadway (~3') to get better reaction. On curves/corner.hills or other places of short sight lines we learned to cross the street and/or stay off the pavement and walk in the brush. Obviously this method would not work for a bicycle and likewise we were taught to cycle with traffic flow.
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