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RickQ
06-17-2002, 10:50 AM
I have noticed something while living here in Detroit (well, Frendale, one of the burbs) which is that people tend to ride on the road facing the oncoming traffic.

Do people do this everywhere in the US? Is it just me, or does anyone else think this is odd?

It seems a little bit unsafe to me. It has been pointed out that this way you can see the oncoming traffic, but you are also approaching the cars at a higher overall speed.

In the UK, people ride in the same direction as the cars on which ever side of the road they are riding. I am not sure if there are any specific laws about this but when I did my cycling proficiency test we were told to do it this way.

Having said that, it also seems common practice to walk facing on coming traffic if there is no footpath to walk on.

What say you, is this the norm? I'm more after opinions, but if anyone knows of any specific laws, that would be good too.

Rick

In Conceivable
06-17-2002, 10:54 AM
I believe the law is that you much ride your bike with traffic. Bikes much follow the same traffic laws as cars, ie stopping at red lights, stop signs.

Always walk facing traffic if you are on the street. That way you can see it coming towards you and you can get out of the way if necessary.

auntie em
06-17-2002, 12:03 PM
I was taught in Girl Scouts as a kid to ride facing oncoming traffic. While this could have been because our Scout Leader secretly hated us and wished us all painful deaths, I figure it was because we'd be able to see any cars that might be about to hit us.

Generally, though, bikes are required to follow regular traffic laws around here. I'm guessing she just figured it would be safer for kids to ride that way, ,and that she wouldn't have given the same advice to an adult.

But hell, I'm 32 now and I'm still scared to ride my bike in the street! :eek:

LifeOnWry
06-17-2002, 12:14 PM
The law in Illinois now is you ride WITH traffic and obey all traffic laws that apply to cars. However, I distinctly remember being taught to ride against traffic - you see what's coming, rather than having cars come up alongside you from behind. This makes TONS more sense to me. I am certain I had a booklet about bicycle safety as a child, and I am positive that's what it said. No one else believes me, or has any such recollection, but I can't even imagine that I made this up.

Ferret Herder
06-17-2002, 12:16 PM
I was under the impression that the law in the US was that you ride with traffic, as you are a vehicle and subject to basically the same laws (with some variations). Here's the official comment on it for Illinois, at least: http://www.library.sos.state.il.us/publications/rr/rr_chap09.html

BF
06-17-2002, 12:25 PM
This continues to amaze me when I come upon a rider going the wrong way. And I guess it just depends on where you were raised. I was taught, and teach young riders to ride with traffic, even if they're going to their friends house two blocks away. When using the roadways, in almost every state in this country, a bicycle is treated as a moving vehicle and is required to follow all the applicable laws as a moving vehicle. People who ride against traffic and without a helmet we call "donors".

Skalman
06-17-2002, 12:31 PM
If cars ride in one direction, and bikes in another, in what direction should you walk to face all oncoming traffic?

blowero
06-17-2002, 03:14 PM
In the U.S., you are supposed to ride your bicycle in the street with traffic, but since you don't need a license to ride a bicycle, nobody is educated about it, so it's pretty much a free-for-all. My pet peeve is idiots who ride their bicycle on the sidewalk - it's just plain WRONG, folks, not to mention dangerous.

Having said that, I remember hearing that the rule for walking is that you go with traffic in the city, and against traffic in the country. (I do have a vague recollection of being told the same thing regarding bicycles, but it doesn't seem right).

QueenAl
06-17-2002, 05:11 PM
Like everyone said, the law is generally to ride with the traffic, but some cycle lanes face the opposite way, and a few roads have one-way signs that specify 'except cycles.' Then of course there are the stupid people who give law-abiding cyclists a bad name.

Mr. Miskatonic
06-17-2002, 07:15 PM
Yes, its the law that bikes must ride with the flow of traffic. I'm too lazy to get a cite. Sorry.

But suffice it to say that there's strong logic here, epsecially in regards to cars making right turns out of driveways. There's little reason for a car driver to look up the road (unless there's a side walk with pedestrians that they may be blocking), instead they look in the direction that the traffic is coming fromt. The result? They pull out, Mr. wrong-way-bike is there, POW! Never saw him officer.

Worse than mere ignorance are the dioits who try to justify this idiocy. I've heard claims of "I can see the threat coming, and react to get out of the way". Duh, stupid, you made the car into the threat when you did that and due to this little thing called combined speed, you have less time to react. Grrrrrrrrr. Darwin awards can't be handed out fast enough for these wastes.

The thing people fear is that some car is going to ride up behind the bike and run them over. This is very rare (Something like 2% of all bicycle car collisions IIRC), and when it does happen usually involves a drunk car driver.

waterj2
06-17-2002, 10:31 PM
Actually, even stupider than that is a bill here in Massachusetts that would have required bicycles and pedestrians to go against the flow of traffic, in the name of easing congestion. Fortunately, it never made it out of committee.

And for anyone who needs it:
The One Big Link To All US Bicycle Laws (http://www.massbike.org/lawlegis/bikelaw.htm), courtesy of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition.

RealityChuck
06-17-2002, 10:38 PM
Here's one more reason to go with traffic on your bicycle.

Say you're traveling down a narrow two-lane road in your car. Another car is approaching in the other lane. Two scenarios:

1. Bicycle going with traffic: driver slows down behind the bicycle until oncoming car passes, then pulls out an passes bicycle. No problem.

2. Bicycle going against traffic. You have two choices: stay in your lane and maybe hit the bicycle (or drive the bicycle off the road, if you're lucky), or pull out and hit the car. Big problem.

Cardinal
06-18-2002, 12:04 AM
I ABSOLUTELY guarantee that riding against the traffic is more dangerous. I rode bikes to four years of high school and two years of college, straight. I had friends who were winning actual sanctioned cycle races, and they would NEVER have ridden against the traffic.

Drivers are not conditioned to look for things coming from the wrong direction. I know a guy in high school who was hit by a car because the driver never thought of something approaching from his right as he turned right (this is in the U.S.).

Just about a month ago I saw a kid come about half a second from being killed by a car. He was riding against the traffic, in the spot where you often slide in to the right of the normal traffic so you can turn right. The driver saw him just as she slid right, and performed quite a smoking fishtail as she tried not to hit him. I turned around and caught him, and told him he was taking his life in his hands.

Tell the bike riders you know to go WITH THE FLOW. No one expects you to pop out ofrom the wrong direction.

Patty O'Furniture
06-18-2002, 01:23 PM
Originally posted by Skalman

If cars ride in one direction, and bikes in another, in what direction should you walk to face all oncoming traffic?

Since you shouldn't be walking in the street, I don't see that this question needs answering. Even where there are no sidewalks, I would wager that local laws specify how far off the road you must be while walking alongside it.

This brings up an interesting question regarding joggers who like to pretend that they are vehicles by jogging in the road. I'm not sure but it seems like these people must be breaking some law... jaywalking? Right up there with the people who, instead of crossing the street where construction sites have closed a sidewalk, insist on walking alongside the jersey wall while passing cars come inches away from brushing against their sides.

Umbriel
06-18-2002, 02:05 PM
I too recall most of the advice in my childhood (roughly the early '70s) being to ride against traffic so that the bike rider could better see what was coming. Today, as noted above, most traffic laws (state or local ordinances in the US) treat bikes as vehicles, and require them to ride with traffic.

I think, though I know of no cite, that there was a change in the conventional wisdom, and that a key factor in the change was the popularization in the 1970s of the 10-speed bike. Earlier model bikes were heavier, typically operated at lower speeds, and most commonly rode on the sidewalk or shoulder of the road. Lighter, faster bikes with advanced gearing made it more feasible for bikes to keep pace with, and become part of, the stream of traffic. They also made increased collision speed more significant.

Remember, it never occurred to anyone to wear a helmet back in the olden days either.

In Conceivable
06-18-2002, 02:31 PM
Originally posted by Attrayant

This brings up an interesting question regarding joggers who like to pretend that they are vehicles by jogging in the road. I'm not sure but it seems like these people must be breaking some law... jaywalking? Right up there with the people who, instead of crossing the street where construction sites have closed a sidewalk, insist on walking alongside the jersey wall while passing cars come inches away from brushing against their sides.

A jogger has the same right to use the road as anyone. Where are we suppose to jog? The area I live in has no sidewalks and the grass on the side of the road is so poorly maintained that it is impossible to run in without breaking a leg. Even if I go somewhere with sidewalks the sidewalks are never as even as the street. Usually they have large cracks from tree roots, etc. Usually there are cars parked on the sidewalks and sprinklers running on them.

I run facing traffic at times when the roads aren't heavly traveled. I move to the side when a car is coming. I don't wear headphones and I stay alert. If people in cars didn't think that it was their god given right to have sole use of the roads then there would be a lot less trouble.

Patty O'Furniture
06-18-2002, 06:50 PM
It's a good thing this isn't general questions or you'd be digging up cites for those ridiculous assertions.

:rolleyes:

In Conceivable
06-19-2002, 08:25 AM
Originally posted by Attrayant
It's a good thing this isn't general questions or you'd be digging up cites for those ridiculous assertions.

:rolleyes:

Don't you :rolleyes me buddy. What ridiculous assertions did I make? I expressed opinions in IMHO. Funny how instead of carrying on a discussion you choose to dismiss someone who has a different opinion then you with rolleyes. I think it is rude and borderline jerkish.

I suppose you would like a cite for the fact that the road sides are dangerous in my area? Perhaps I should take some pictures for you. Maybe you would like a picture of the only place anywhere near me with sidewalks. People there treat the sidewalks like an extension of their yard. Between the cars, sprinklers and crack and raised areas from tree roots the sidewalks are like an obstacle course. Where there are no sidewalks the grass on the side of the road is sometimes knee high. There are tree branches, beer bottles, mailboxes and other assorted obstacles.

Where would you like me to run? Not everyone can afford a treadmill or a membership at a gym. Besides, to me it is much better to run outside.

Lets see, here are a couple of cites.
http://tridod.org/legal/ped.htm

"Where sidewalks are provided, it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway. Where sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the extreme left of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction. Such pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to approaching traffic."

Hmmm, walk/run facing traffic and get out of the way when there is a car. Funny, that is what I said I do.

As far as the sidewalk issue, at least one jogger in the next state has won the right to run on the roads were the sidewalks were dangerous. If I ever get a ticket for running in the road rather then the sidewalk here I will fight it.

http://www.crazy8s.org/hank/columns/bs_9610_trial_century.htm

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