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Which side of the road?(24 posts)

Which side of the road?kid4lyf
Jul 12, 2001 2:05 PM
I'm new to road riding and I don't understand something. Why ride on the right side of the road? Maybe I'm cynical about drivers but I don't trust them and I sure don't like the idea of putting my life in their hands. At least if I can see them coming I have a chance to bail. With them coming behind me I'll just never know what hit me. If I was worried about a 250 lb person hitting me I wouldn't turn my back on him. Why should I do it to a 3000lb enemy. Isn't 2 pair of eyes (the driver's and mine) safer than one.
Jul 12, 2001 2:51 PM
In America, at least, always on the right:

*It's the law
*You won't hit other cyclists head on
*That's what auto drivers expect
*Closing speed of you and cars is less
*Right turns work better

For starters: Delta Vmike mcmahon
Jul 12, 2001 2:52 PM
If you're doing 20 on a bike and are hit head-on by a tractor-trailer doing 30 mph in the opposite direction, your change in speed (or Delta V) is going to be close to 50 mph. If you're doing 20 on a bike and are hit by a tractor-trailer going the same direction at 30 mph, your change of speed is going to be approximately 10 mph. Would you rather have an effective speed of impact of 50 mph or 10 mph?
neither...they both would suck (nm)jayz
Jul 13, 2001 4:54 AM
Everybody sees 120mph+Mabero
Jul 13, 2001 5:22 AM
Exactly! When we are driving 60+ on the highway the other cars are going 60+ the other way therefore they appear to be going 120+.

Also remember one formula: Kinetic Energy = Mass*Velocity^2.

So if the dV (delta V) is 5 times higher...well that energy will be 25 times and that's what will destroy your bike not to mention you.

Every see the difference in an accident of 10 mph and 20 mph and wonder why there was such a HUGE difference?
Because it's the law, that's why.boy nigel
Jul 12, 2001 2:56 PM
I'm not trying to get harsh with you, but as "moving vehicles," bicycles are required to ride WITH traffic. Pedestrians (whether walking or running) are allowed to run against (towards) traffic. I believe that even rollerbladers are supposed to go with traffic, not against it.

If for nothing else, picture it this way. Picture riding AT traffic and a car either turning right into your path (since drivers usually aren't looking PAST the right-hand turn they're making--at least not really careful drivers). How'd you like to go head-to-head with a moving vehicle. Say one has to pull over for an emergency to the side of the road? If you're next to a car or it just passed you (and the driver would then--hopefully--be aware of your presence), it would do the right thing. Drivers aren't used to looking UP the road to make sure someone's not coming along TOWARDS them before pulling off (since all the other vehicles are going WITH them). Your days would be over, I'm not pleased to say.

Drivers are used to things the way they are, and so riding with the traffic flow is definitely the safest way to go, all laws aside.

Safe and happy riding out there. You'll get used to it quickly, if you haven't yet.

right is best, here's why:Spoke Wrench
Jul 12, 2001 3:25 PM
Lots of people worry about getting rear ended, but statistically that accident rarely happens.

By far the majority of bicycle/motor vehicle accidents happen at intersections. If you ride on the left side of the road, at every intersection you are where the auto drivers don't expect you to be.

Try this experiment. Camp out at a stop sign where traffic is fairly heavy. Check out what a low percentage of drivers who even look to the right before making a right turn. Riding on the left side of the street is a bad idea.
re: Which side of the road?LC
Jul 12, 2001 9:27 PM
Maybe you should move to England or Japan, where you can ride on the left side of the road. It will also keep you far away from me!
Bother other cyclists doing the "right" thing...Mabero
Jul 13, 2001 5:25 AM
Yesterday I had some kid come flying down a hill on the left side as I was going up the hill. It's a busy road and it made for a bad moment with me having to slowly integrate into the road to let this person go by. I just made sure to yell and tell him "Get on the Other Side!"
So, basically, what you're saying is...kid4lyf
Jul 13, 2001 6:14 AM
That it's safer to ride on the right because of intersections. I can see that and it's a valid point. The other points about drivers being used to it or the adding of speed in a head on crash don't hold water. (you other people who said things like "go to England" needn't wonder why most people think of roadies as arrogent a$$holes) First off, as for drivers not being used to seeing me on that side, think about it, I'm still in the same place in their view(on their right). Whether I'm going toward them or riding away from them has no effect on them seeing me. As far as the speed thing, from what I've seen, if I'm going 20mph chances are, most drivers are going more like 55-60mph in which case the only difference is the condition of the body. Basically, the best chance of surviving a car/bike accident is to avoid it. I'd rather be in the weeds cussing at a driver than saying nothing to him with my head through his windshield. (whether I was hit from behind or head on)
I'm truly not being contrarian. It's just that I have thought out most of these factors and they just don't make sense.(other than the intersection thing) As for the law, well, when's the last time a motorist got a ticket for passing a bike in a no passing zone. We aren't cars and the rules SHOULD be different for us.
Buy a mirror...Mabero
Jul 13, 2001 6:49 AM
But don't go against traffic as it is in the law we most go with. This will cause disruption with other cyclists as it did for me the other day.

I love the Comment: "When's the last time a motoris got a ticket for passing a bike in a no passing zone?"

Can they get a ticket? Technically can they? I have always thought about that.
Then work to change the lawmike mcmahon
Jul 13, 2001 8:06 AM
If you're convinced that riding against traffic is safer and feel that you have logic and the facts on your side, you should mount an effort to change the law. When I was a kid, the law was that bicyclists rode against traffic. The law has changed since then, so making a change is possible. Meanwhile, if you're riding in my neighborhood, please follow the law and ride with traffic. Wrong-way riders make cycling more dangerous for those of us who are going with traffic as required by law. I've been running across more people going against traffic lately, and it really makes me uncomfortable. I recently rounded a right curve on a narrow road only to be faced with a couple going against traffic. Because they were going the wrong way, I had very little time to react.
be a carspeedchump
Jul 13, 2001 8:38 AM
"We aren't cars, and the rules SHOULD be different for us."

I disagree completely. I pay taxes on the roads, I have a legal right to be there, I follow all traffic regulations, and I EXPECT to be treated with the same respect as a motorist. I would be every bit as much in their way were I in my SUV.

If you're new to road riding, I truly believe your opinion on this matter will change as your speed goes up. The biggest argument for "right" is that you can take the lane. I commute on busy roads regularly, and have no problem moving with traffic, which generally moves @ 20 -30 mph. I take the lane, and expect everyone to treat me like a car. I have no problems riding this way, and motorists seem to respect me more, because I am predictable and can simply be treated like a car. Personally, I would be terrified to cruise along at 25 mph, sandwiched between a line of parked cars and oncoming traffic.

Remember that you deserve and have earned (as a tax payer) your place on the road. Ride like you belong there, because you do!
that only works if...d_alex
Jul 13, 2001 8:54 AM are poking along really slowly. If you are doing a reasonable 25 mph, and are driving against traffic, what do you do when you see a piece of metal in the road in front of you? Play chicken with oncoming traffic? You must be brain-dead to even CONSIDER doing something as hare-brained as this! And you have the nerve to call US @$$h0le$?? Up yours!!!!
What would YOU do?kid4lyf
Jul 13, 2001 12:34 PM
Go ahead oh brainiack, tell me how having the traffic coming behind you is going to be a big help in avoiding that hunk of metal without swerving into the traffic coming up behind your dumb a$$. Perhaps you should reread my post. The only people I called A$$holes were the posters that acted like jerks while replying to an honest inquiry. If you don't fit into this catagory you shouldn't feel offended. If you do, well, I stand by my statement. I think we know where you sit.
What would I do??????????????d_alex
Jul 16, 2001 5:34 AM
I would DAMN SURE rather be rear-ended by a motorist with a 10-20 mph speed differential than be plastered across the grill of an oncoming vehicle with a speed differential of 60 mph!! When you are riding WITH traffic, vehicles come upon you more slowly, and actually SEE you long before they PASS you. They are also more likely to see the same obstruction in time, and react in a way to allow you safe manoevering room. Riding AGAINST traffic means that you appear in front of a motorist JUST BEFORE they pass you. That gives damn little time for some drivers to react, and that reaction can be unpredictable.
As far as who is a dumb @$$ and who is not, we'll see who actually LIVES longer. Your idea is so far removed from common sense that it defies credibility, and actually seems designed more to promote acrimony than actually explore any meaningful discourse. To THAT, I say a hearty "UP YOURS, AND TWIST IT"!!!
It's about predictibility & Physics........Len J
Jul 13, 2001 10:42 AM
Not about control. If you think that you can react fast enough when a car is coming at you at 60mph and you are riding at 20mph (a close rate at 80 mph) you are kidding yourself. In addition, both you and the driver in this situatition have very little time to react. Compare the time the driver has to react to you in this situatition with the amount of time he has to react if you are both going the same direction. (close rate of 40mph). He has twice as long since the close rate is halved.

Safe Bicycling is mainly about being predictible. You want to make sure that those behind you and those oncoming are certain as to what you are doing & what line you are going to take. This includes drivers and other cyclists. If you ride against traffic, you are not only endangering yourself, but also other cyclists.

I think your problem is more about thinking you should be in control of the entire situitation. Well guess what, if you are going to go out on the road, you don't have any control over drivers. You do have control of how safely you ride your bike. The safest place is with traffic.
re: get the mirrorcyclopathic
Jul 13, 2001 6:44 AM
if you're so concerned with what's going on behind /good idea anyways/ also reflective vest makes you much more visible, during daytime too.

It is very unlikely someone's gonna hit you without hitting brakes first, then as stated above speed diff would be significantly less then 60-20. A couple years back I hit a deer driving 70mph in 60mph zone I saw it last moment and I did hit brakes. I am guessing my speed was down to 20-30mph when I hit that SOB. My car was immediately disabled but the deer ran away, sure with a few broken ribs.

Second drivers are not your enemies. Yes you get and A-hole now and then, but majority of the people: a) worry about insurance rates b) can't afford to loose license c) dont feel good about killing someone /with wife, mom or boss being an exception ;-)/ d) deff don't wanna go to prison for involuntary slaughter.

Third, most of rides occur on secondary roads with low traffic, no shoulders and speed limits ~30mph.

And yes mnt biking is much safer
Jul 13, 2001 6:48 AM
take into concideration cars pulling off the turns and/or slowing down to make right turn or stop. They use shoulders
If you get in an accident...Shad
Jul 13, 2001 8:27 AM
If you choose to ride on the left side of the road and you end up in an accident for whatever reason, I would tend to believe the law will not be on your side. Sort of like the drunk idiots that end up driving the wrong way on the freeway and kill someone. That could be bad news if your bike were totaled and/or you were seriously injured. At least make sure you have good insurance for yourself. You may also end up paying for any damage to the auto.

Apple Valley, MN
Ignorance Is BlissKristin
Jul 13, 2001 9:10 AM
If a car is gonna to hit me--whether fore or aft--its gonna hit me still. There's a slim chance that I could get out of the way in time. Personally, I'd rather not see it coming.
You are an idiot! nmthe insultan
Jul 13, 2001 9:36 AM
Jul 13, 2001 12:50 PM
Thanks to Doug, boy nigel, cyclepathic, and all of you with truly helpful input. I am riding on the right side. I'm still not convinced it's the safest way to go but I'm smart enough to know that I don't know everything. By the way Rod, I happen to be a 40 year old "kid4lyf".
Oh and one other thing, LC, d_alex, and insultan. Fux you very much.
"cuz you need to function like and auto and stay predictable.1 grzy mnky
Jul 13, 2001 2:00 PM
My wife causes total confussion at intersections when she does all sorts of unexpected things. I tell her to handle her bike just like a car, but to no avail.