This is the last of a 6-part series regarding annoying or dangerous cycling behaviors.
Many people, almost without exception, non-cyclists, wonder why cyclists do not ride against (or into) oncoming traffic – like most runners (correctly) run. Simply stated – it is unsafe.
First, cyclists are traffic. With very limited exceptions, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities of motorists. Bicyclists riding against the traffic are not in the place where motorists expect them to be. Because riding against traffic places a cyclist in an area where motorists do not know to look, the obvious consequence is that the motorist will not expect the cyclist to be where it is, thus leading to wrecks. For example a car making a right hand turn may only look to the left, given that is the only direction that cars are expected to come. A bicycle headed into traffic thus would plow right into a car making a right hand turn.
Secondly, bicycles move fast relatively speaking – much. much faster than joggers, and in some parts of the roadway, may even push toward the speed limit. Accordingly, the distance between a car and an oncoming bicycle is reduced very quickly. For example a car travelling 40 mph approaching a bicyclist traveling 20 mph will be getting closer at the rate of 88 feet a second. In just a little over 3 second a distance off 100 yards (the length of a football field) will be gone.
Third, unlike runners, who are taught to run against traffic – cyclists cannot bail out off the road, as can runners.
Once someone gives the matter a little thought, it is absolutely clear why cyclists should not ride against traffic.