Riding Against Traffic: Stubborn and Dangerous

September 22, 2010 | Bike Safety, See Me Bike Safety

You don’t see it very often, but this morning I saw a young couple riding against traffic, instead of with it.  I stopped them, and tried to explain why what they were doing is very dangerous and annoying to drivers.  They were polite but very stubborn; their theory is that they can see the cars coming and that makes it easier for them to get off the road if necessary.

I tried to explain about closing speed:   With Traffic – Bike moving 15 mph, car behind moving in same direction doing 40 mph – speed differential or closing speed= 25 mph.

Against Traffic – Bike moving 15 mph, car coming toward cyclist at 40 mph- speed difference or closing speed= 55 mph.  BIG difference.

They still aren’t buying it, how can they see the cars?  The answer, very simple – mirrors.  Some cyclists think they are a distraction, but once you learn to use them and get used to them I don’t think you’ll every ride without them.

I even told them that in most places it’s illegal to ride against traffic.  They didn’t care, saying they would trade a ticket for their safety.

I gave up and wished them well, but I fear for their safety.  Can any of you think of any other arguments to persuade people who ride against traffic?  I’d love to hear them.

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