A friend asked me why we dont ride on the opposite side to the traffic ie facing the oncoming traffic?  She thought it was a law in the 1960's for cyclists.  I had never heard of that.

I remember being taught pedestrians should walk on the opposite side to the traffic.  Never heard it for bikes.  

I cant see how it would work for intersections, maybe it was an idea for small kids in the local street in the days when cars were few and far between.

Any ideas?

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A clever subject heading!

I presume the idea of pedestrians walking facing oncoming traffic developed when more people walked and the presence of footpaths would have been a lot less. It gave the pedestrian some advance warning as to whether they had been seen by a vehicle and whether to take "evasive" action. Just my idea anyway.

As to bikes doing the same thing, I can't believe there was ever a time when bikes were required to do that. My head is spinning just thinking about it.

Perhaps this refers to walking your bike up hills, back when gears weren't common yet?

A friend asked me why we dont ride on the opposite side to the traffic ie facing the oncoming traffic?

There are a couple of reasons which spring to mind...

1). It is illegal and getting a ticket whenever you go for a ride would be pretty tiresome.

2). Getting killed by a motor vehicle doesn't sound like much fun - http://www.bicyclinglife.com/Library/riskfactors.htm:-

Table 4 shows that all categories of bicy­clists traveling against the direction of traffic flow are at greatly increased risk for accidents—on average 3.6 times the risk of those traveling with traffic, and as high as 6.6 times for those 17 and under. This result is readily explained: because motorists normally scan for traffic trav­eling in the lawful direction, wrong-way traffic is easily overlooked. To give only a single example, a motorist turning right at an intersec­tion scans to the left for approaching traffic on the new road, and cannot see or anticipate a fast-moving wrong-way bicyclist approaching from the right. (This is the one of the most common types of bicycle-motor vehicle collisions in Palo Alto.)

Did you ask her why she doesn't drive her car on the wrong side of the road?

Riding in the same direction as the rest of the traffic, effectively reduces the impact speed of a car approaching from the rear - - - riding in the opposite direction increases the impact speed eg., car doing 50 kph, bike doing 25 kph = impact speed of 75 kph !  I have been around for a long time, lived in every Australian state and have never known that "riding on the wrong side is right." 

A lot of riders in NYC travel in the opposite direction to motorised traffic. That's because a bunch of idiot car centric traffic engineers thought the best way to deal with congestion would be to make many of their wide multi laned roads one way. All this did was induce more motorised traffic.  Now riders that start their commute  in New York are expected to head along busy roads in the wrong direction before they can go around the block in order to start traveling in the correct direction. The easiest legal option is to walk your bike the wrong way up a one way street but thats just a pain in the Arse. Hence people thinking "stuff this" and just riding in the wrong direction (which is actually the correct way in their mind because its the direction they actually need to go). 

How cute!  A bike salmon!

I have seen a few of these recently - even one turning into a Left turn lane off the Lonsdale Highway - the wrong way...

they dice with death...

Bike salmon
also "Ninja Salmon" (same thing, in the dark with no lights)

I have one of these living in my street and come across him every so often!  It is only a matter of time...

There's pro's and cons to riding on the same side of the road as oncoming traffic.  The biggest pro is its very hard to get doored, if someone in a car does open their door it will just slam back in their face. 

Riding on the wrong side of the road eliminates the number one cause of cbd cycling accidents (according to hospital data 40.7% of Sydney cbd cycling accidents are caused by car doors (it reduces as population density decreases.) 

Another pro is its easier to tell if oncoming traffic has seen you and is giving you enough space.  

Allowing/making riders travel in the opposite direction is common practice in many places. eg. The brooklyn bridge NY makes riders travel in the opposite direction to walkers. In many parts of Japan (Tokyo in particular) its normal to ride the wrong way up one way lane ways. Construction workers usually accommodate riders who travel in the wrong direction by waving them through. 

I'm a bit disappointed by some of the earlier posts in this discussion. Some of you don't even realise how oppressed and overly car centric we are. 

One way streets are unacceptable. If motor vehicles don't fit it shouldn't be our problem. Most one way lane ways in Australia don't have adequate footpaths or wheelchair facilities. What that means is the speed limit should be lowered and these lane ways should become shared zones. If they must remain one way for machines that's fine but they should always be multi directional for people. 

Many of Sydney's one way lane ways have now become two way for bicycles. They provide riders with more options and quieter, safer routes away from main roads. 

Doddsy, like the picture. I can think of narrow lanes in Adelaide CBD where the footpaths are not wide enough to meet Australian Standards or fit wheelchairs and prams.

A wider but still narrow street is Gawler Place which is one way for much of its length. Wheeling one's bike on the footpath is a pain for cyclists and pedestrians -- the narrow footpaths have much foot traffic. Perhaps remove some car lanes or parking to widen the footpaths and add two-way bicycle lanes.

Surely you can appreciate the difference between cycling the wrong way down a one way narrow low speed lane in the CBD and doing it on an arterial road? I've experienced both. Yes, in Japan and Europe mossying around in the lanes in built up areas isn't particularly dangerous, nor for that matter is it in Adelaide. But I've seen many people doing this on major roads in some other cities and it seems to be very dangerous - I've nearly been skittled by people flying around corners on the wrong side of the road and had to avoid head on collisions with people riding on the wrong side of the road. Reading about how some of these people have met their fate under the wheels of dump trucks seems to support the idea that doing it on major two way roads is not a good idea. I certainly wouldn't recommend that anyone ride on the wrong side of the road on roads such as Portrush Rd or South Rd or any other major road with fast moving traffic.


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