When I was a kid we were taught to always walk and ride our bicycles with the flow of traffic. Later in life I was a runner for over twenty years, and I never ran against traffic on streets, sidewalks, or on any bikeways. I was never rude, arrogant, aggressive, nor did I expect other people to get out of MY way. Things have changed. And, it seems a new, dangerous, selfish way of thinking is afoot.
Lately, I have had to do a lot of swerving out of the far right side of traffic lanes, and even out of marked bike lanes, to miss oncoming runners, all whom refused to move over and allow safe passage. I have even seen a growing number of cyclists and walkers doing the same thing. They are even pulling this crap on bicycle trails along riverbeds, too. And, in all cases, there was plenty of sidewalk and pathways for pedestrians to utilize without impeding the flow of traffic.
What the heck is this behavior all about? Did a new law pass few got the memo about? Did the magnetic poles reverse? Do British rules of the road now apply here in America?
Being I like to get to the bottom of new phenomena, I asked some people I know, all whom are voracious runners, why they insist on training against the flow of traffic. They all claimed it was “In the name of safety.”
Oh, really? Let’s investigate that claim.
The Myth: Running/Cycling/Walking against the flow of traffic allows a clear view of on-coming traffic. It makes travel safer.
The Fact: Running/Cycling/Walking opposite traffic is inherently more dangerous to yourself and to others. Here’s why:
First, closure speeds will now be higher, meaning less reaction time on both parties’ behalf. Second, if a cyclist must swerve wide to avoid Wrong-Way Dufus, and we often do, the cyclist is placed at risk in two ways - Having to swerve left to miss the opposite direction moron, the rider is forced into traffic and incurs the major risk of being hit from behind by a motor vehicle. And, if the cyclist swerves right to avoid same moron, then the curb, road signs and trees are right there to greet the rider. And finally, traffic traveling in the correct direction is not expecting someone to be coming directly at them, not to mention traffic making turns being surprised by a “Wrong Way” buffoon.
Researching marathon and triathlon sites on the net reveals this wrong-way behavior is actually encouraged to avoid “Being hit by vehicles from behind.” While this may sound like intelligent, good advice, did any of these idiots stop to think that if you don’t run in the street in the first place you don’t have to worry about being hit from behind by vehicles? Yeah, I’m betting none of these weekend warriors ever stopped to ponder that fact at all.
If you analyze the law here in California, it basically states the following regarding pedestrians (i.e. Runners): Unless for the purpose of crossing a street/road/highway in a legal, safe manner (or in an emergency), a pedestrian may not enter the road, or block vehicular traffic, including bicycles, for any reason. I did not recite the Californian Vehicle Code verbatim, however, that seems pretty cut and dry. If you don’t believe me, contact the California Highway Patrol (or your State Trooper) for verification of what I just described.
So, the bottom line regarding opposite traffic idiots – Why are you behaving so selfishly dangerous? Please knock off your aggressive, reckless behavior. It is hard enough having to deal with vehicular traffic, but must we have to deal with you violating our safety and right of way, as well?
What did the rest of us do to you to deserve such treatment?