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Riding facing traffic



 
 
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  #1  
Old August 10th 03, 10:12 AM
Bruce G Patrick
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Default Riding facing traffic


"Jeremy Parker" wrote in message
...
Wasn't there some kind of fad in the 1970s or 1980s where
"conventional wisdom" said you had to ride FACING the flow of traffic?
When did that start up, and how long did it last? Was it some
government fact sheet or magazine article that said to do this?

I always rode WITH the traffic as we all do nowadays, but when I was
12 (early 1980s) I remember some kid in the neighborhood riding up to
me and trying to reason with me that I was on the wrong side of the
road and I ought to be on the left side.


That's a good question, and I have been trying to answer it for years,
without success.

The fad was widespread, almost universal, when I first went to the USA
in 1963, and seems to have spread to Canada and Mexico as well.
However, as far as I can tell it was never state law anywhere. Whether
there were any local ordinances, I don't know. If there were, they
would have contradicted state law, and so been illegal.

John Forester, who grew up in London, and emigrated with his family to
the USA in the late 1930s, did not hear of it in Berkeley, Calif. as a
teenager. He thinks, spceculates, really, that the idea may have
originated in the midwest, in the 1950s.

I think that for the idea to have spread across a whole continent it
must have been written down somewhere. I doubt that would have been
among the "road safety" establishment, police and AAA and such, but
might have been among stuff intended for schools. School bike safety
zealots always seem to be able to hold only one idea in their heads,
usually wrong. In about 1960 the idea was, "ride on the wrong side of
the road". In about 1975 it was flags, horizontal or vertical, attached
to your bike, or a red triangle pinned to your bottom. No need to say
what it is now.

When bike magazines appeared, in the 1970s, they campaigned against
against wrong side riding. I remember, when "Bicycling" was a good
magazine, that John Schubert had a very good article about it.

However, the wrong way idea is still quite widespread, and seems to
produce a bike accident pattern quite a bit different from Europe's

Jeremy Parker

As far as I know byclists in NSW have always had to ride on the left hand
side of the road and obey the same road ruls as cars.
As for pedestrians working on the right hand side of the rode against the
traffic. to my understanding this only applies where there are no footpaths.

The number of children I see riding their bicycles on the incorrect side of
the rode, into oncoming traffic frightens me. I am suprised that more
children are not killed or seriously injured partaking in this prractice

Brutus45


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  #2  
Old August 11th 03, 09:19 PM
Kirby James
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Default Riding facing traffic

Take a look at the statistics and advice at
http://www.massbike.org/info/bostraf.htm
Taken at face value it's nearly 30 times more dangerous to ride facing the
traffic than against it.



  #3  
Old August 11th 03, 11:42 PM
Rick Onanian
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Default Riding facing traffic

On Sun, 10 Aug 2003 19:12:58 +1000, Bruce G Patrick
wrote:
The number of children I see riding their bicycles on the incorrect side
of the rode, into oncoming traffic frightens me. I am suprised that more
children are not killed or seriously injured partaking in this prractice


My parents love me very much, but out of a skewed sense
of what they thought would be safe, as a child, they told
me to always ride against the traffic.

Their reasoning? I could see the oncoming traffic, and
take appropriate action if necessary.

Well, I did that as a child; but after I started driving,
and then got back into bicycling, I no longer had the
balls to do it. It's scary!!

I don't know how I did it. I used to hit downhill speeds
of 25mph then, and the road I lived on, while rated at
25mph, is usually driven faster; that could easily have
resulted in an effective 75mph crash, when I could
otherwise have avoided a crash entirely by the fact that
I was going traffic speed, or by the fact that I didn't
suprise the hell out of some driver.

Now, I ride safely with the traffic. I can't see the
traffic coming up behind me, so if somebody isn't
paying attention or is drunk or whatever, I'm roadkill.
But somehow, I'm not scared.

I try to ride safer roads, anyhow.

Brutus45

--
Rick Onanian
  #5  
Old August 12th 03, 08:11 AM
R15757
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Default Riding facing traffic

Now, I ride safely with the traffic. I can't see the
traffic coming up behind me, so if somebody isn't
paying attention or is drunk or whatever, I'm roadkill.
But somehow, I'm not scared.


The problem of drivers failing to notice cyclists has more to do with turning
and crossing vehicles than vehicles coming up behind. These passing drivers
have more time to notice the cyclist, and the cyclist is right where they would
be looking anyway. For the sake of practicality we must often assume they see
us. I don't like ceding to drivers any little bit of responsibility for my own
safety. Although the chance of getting hit from behind is statistically
miniscule, especially inside the city, I try to reduce this risk still further
by, as you say, riding wider and quieter streets if possible, and by keeping an
ear out. You can hear some bad drivers coming from blocks away.

The hit-from-behind wrecks are more of a problem on country roads and high
speed-limit roads in the suburbs, where they are still rare, but are
inordinately deadly. Probably the deadliest variety of bike accident in terms
of deaths-per-incident.

Robert
 




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