Poll-commuters and road riders

Do you ride with or against traffic?

Laws (over here in Colorado anyway) require that you go into traffic when on the sidewalk, and with the traffic when you are in the bike lane. This law is never inforced though, so I like going into the traffic, that way I can see the cars. It makes me feel a little more safe. Because of this I am usualy on the sidewalk, wich I think I am not supposed to do, but that law is never inforced ether. How is this a poll?

Per the bike laws in WA state, I ride with traffic, unless it’s one of those funky “bike lane only on one side of the street” setups, in which case I’ll ride that regardless of whether it is with or against.

I always ride facing oncoming traffic on streets. On highways the shoulder is usually wide enough, at least in my local area of NJ, to allow for riding with traffic.

When i ride to work (7.5 km. each way), i ride with traffic, but on the sidewalk whenever possible. I’d be a little worried about riding against traffic, because bicyclist always ride with traffic, and it would be a bad situation to try to get around the bicyclist when a car is coming at me at the same time.

I used to ride with traffic as much as possible, but after I got hit (ever so slightly, tho the swerving bus that hit me then ran into a car), I decided to stick to sidewalks as much as possible. They’re usually lightly trafficked themselves (with pedestrians), but occasionally the sidewalks are quite busy. In those cases, I’m still usually on my Coker. This is another reason I went to the 125s – 110s are too hard to maneuver with thru tight pedestrian situations.

David Stone

I too like to ride against traffic.

I have a somewhat unrelated question to ask of the commuters: do you ride in your work clothes or change when you get there? The reason I ask is because I get so sweaty while riding that there’s no way I could wear my work clothes on the uni and still expect to be presentable. I think I may sweat more than the average Joe, but still, the uni definitely gets the sweat flowing no matter who you are. Where I work I wouldn’t be all that comfortable with changing once I got there either…and would still probably be sweaty enough to soak the work clothes too. It’s a predicament.

You left out “into.” I like to ride “into” traffic. My riding companions frequently ask me to play in traffic.

According to the Uniform Vehicle Code (in the U.S.), I’m pretty sure that all cyclists, if using the roadway are required to ride in the same direction of traffic. Pedestrians the opposite.

For a bicycle, even going slow, this is (should be) a no-brainer because the relative speed differences between you and the cars are easy enough to calculate.

But if you’re riding a 20" or 24" wheel, and not trying to go fast, your speed is generally under 10 mph, and not very significant.

When I ride to work, I’m on a Coker with 125mm crank arms. Most of the roadways I have to ride along have a good bike lane/shoulder area for me, but not the whole way. I always ride on the right side, except in a couple of spots when I’m approaching left turns, where I may switch to the other side early.

I use a mirror. Anyone who rides in traffic should use a mirror. Mine attaches to a pair of sunglasses:

As for clothing, my 16-mile round trip would really suck with conventional pants. I wear bike shorts and a T-shirt for the ride, then change into regular clothes when I get to work. I bring a bunch of clothes in on days when I drive, so there’s always some here. Without changing I would be too sweaty after arriving. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be about 103 degrees f when I head home, which will be close to but not equal to my personal ride-home record of 105 or 106. When I get home on hot days, the sweat starts pouring off of me. So I jump in the pool!

On back roads that are not heavily travelled by cars, I prefer to ride against traffic so I can see them coming. On back roads, the cars tend to feel that can have the whole road and I feel more at risk.

On busier roads I travel with traffic. I also try to avoid these roads.

I also like riding on the opposite side on the back roads to get a break from the crown of the road. It’s nice to have the surface of the road leaning the other way.

Like Harper, I ride into traffic also, mostly for sprinting practice. Nothing like an 18 wheeler pushing you from behind to work on your spinning and sprinting. One or two exits and I’m wasted. :roll_eyes:


I ride with the traffic, unless I’m on the footpath or am headed the wrong way on a one way street.

I usually (almost always) ride on the right side with traffic.
I don’t use a mirror.

However, (as an odd twist to your question) I have ridden lots of miles backwards (on the right side of course). If I see a cop, I dismount before having to have a conversation about it.

I wonder if going backwards would be “outlawed” altogether, or if THAT is the time you are supposed to ride on the left.

I ride on the sidewalk whenever possible. But if it’s not, then I ride on the left side of the road against the traffic so I can see the oncoming cars before they hit me.

I’m taking driver’s ed this week and according to NC laws bikes ride with trafic but I don’t know about unicycle, I’ll ask tomorrow.

A compelling reason to ride with traffic on the right side (here in the States) is because that slows down your speed relative to cars.

Let’s say you’re going 10 mph on a 36" and have a car about 20 feet behind you, and you hit a ditch that blends in with the road and fall forward. The car has a lot more time to avoid you and your now uncontrolled unicycle than if you were heading towards each other.

Also, from the car’s perspective, he is used to passing on the left.

Finally, if you are on the left riding with traffic, you are more easily integrated into the driver’s understanding of the scene.

If you are riding with traffic, like hecklar said, it is much much easier to mingle with bicyclists. I’m always irritated by bicyclists on the wrong side of the road, and I would be also by a unicyclist.

Like John said, a mirror enables you to monitor traffic behind you.

I too, have had trouble on back roads with cars flying by too closely. I have noticed recently that with a hugely brighter flashing taillight, I get a lot more room. Although the taillight is red and flashing, I have had the State Police pass several times with no comment except a wave. I think they’d rather not be scraping me off the road.

With the traffic. The biking against the traffic being safer myth is a weird thing that only seems to exist in the USA, everywhere else I’ve ridden they think you’re a nutcase if you ride the wrong way.

I’m of the opinion that if you’re riding on the road, you should act like a vehicle, because that’s what makes you most predictable to other road users and makes it less likely that they’ll do something stupid to you. I don’t use a mirror, but I do look behind me every time I’m going to do anything that changes my road position, like overtake someone, or turn and when I’m coming up to a junction.


I couldn’t have said it better, 'cause I tried!

But isn’t a red flashing tail light normal for cyclists? Or does yours look like a beacon on an airplane or something? :slight_smile: I want one.

For carsonpalooza:
Good luck with your driver’s ed! I used to work for a driving school. If your instructor claims to “know” what a unicyclist is supposed to do in traffic he’s probably making it up. If you’re trying to get from A to B and going faster than pedestrians; basically if you’re in the road, you are required to follow the laws for “vehicles” in your area. In short, that means do what a bike is supposed to do.

Riding toward traffic does nothing to enhance your safety. Unlike many other forms of law, traffic law usually has a ton of logic, and proven experience behind it. I’m glad a couple of other people finally came along in this thread to back that up!