Cycling on the Wrong Side

CyclistI'm seeing so many cyclists on the wrong side of the road lately that I am starting to wonder if the law has changed says a reader from Courtenay. It might save a life or two if they got back on the right side of the road! I agree with him because I almost made a hood ornament out of a wrong way cyclist not long ago.

I had stopped at a red light intending to make a right turn. Check left, check right, look at the sidewalk and right shoulder check. All clear, so I began to make the turn. I saw the cyclist on my right as I made another 180 degree sweep of the intersection and stopped before the far side of the crosswalk. He skimmed by my front bumper and kept going down the wrong side of the road.

It was a close call because I did not expect to see the cyclist there and was likely focused on finding what I was most concerned about. This would be cross traffic coming from my left, pedestrians nearing the crosswalk and anything that might try to overtake me on the right. A cyclist can be hard to see because of their size and from a rider's point of view there is absolutely no sense choosing a path that increases the risk.

I expect that this is why the law requires all traffic other than pedestrians to use the right hand side of the road. The cyclist I nearly collided with would have been much easier to see an yield to if he had been doing what the rules required and I anticipated.

Yes, it's still the law that cyclists must ride in the same direction as all motorized traffic and there is a good reason for it!

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Cyclists also choose to ride on 19A when the E&N trail is close by. Would be great to see the extension to that trail. Many do use it.

As an avid road cyclist, I use clearly marked bike lanes, but spend the majority of my riding on the road and take responsibility for my driving with the same onus as when I use my vehicle. I do not drive on the shoulder, against traffic, on sidewalks, in crosswalks, pass vehicles on the right, or drive between lanes of traffic, etc. I do not wear headphones, do wear a helmut, stop at stop signs and red lights, and use hand signals. Everyday, pedestrians and drivers are inconvenienced and annoyed by crass, uncaring, unknowing, or oblivious cyclists out doing their thing, whatever it may be. Likewise, pedestians and cyclists are endangerd and put off with bad drivers, and both cyclists and motorists affected by pedestrians who cannot follow simple rules. Unfortunately, as a cyclist, I am in a minority, as many, many cyclists do not follow the rules of the road, seem confused when apprised of same, and get very upset when told that what they are doing is illegal. They often say why don't police stop me if I am doing something wrong? Good question!

It seems that we continually invent and enact new laws, usually with very little fanfare or explanation. What do all the markings on downtown Vancouver streets really mean, to cars and to bikes? I am pretty smart and I am totally confused by alot of them. However, with all these laws, new and old, one can witness hundreds of infractions a day, by drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, without seeing anyone ticketed. Pain in the wallet is an effective tool in enforcing the law, helps reduce the costs of police officers, and, when the laws are obeyed, makes driving safer for all, regardless of the means utilized. Laws are enacted for a reason, but, if these laws are not enforced, is there really any rationale? 

If we stop enforcing laws will the problems go away? NO! If we vigilently enforce them, will the problems go away? Not completely perhaps, but, to a far greater extent, than presently. Perhaps we need, like motor vehicles and boats, to have a mandatory operator licensing for all users, with a minimal level of education required to attain said license and a requirement to carry this license (ID) when riding. The costs to provide said education and licensing would be offset by the cost to obtain same. Enforcement of existing laws would reduce the current abuse or lack of knowledge, pay for itself with revenues, and create safer situations for all, ultimately reducing costs in other areas such as medical, accident investigation, etc., while reducing stress for many others and making transportation safer for all.

I do ride on the wrong side. The reason I do this is because I'm deaf and can't hear the cars behind me. I have nearly been hit by a car from behind because sometimes the driver is on the cell or looking into their purse or changing radio station and not watching the road and steers into the shoulder, etc like that. So that's when I decide that I would be safer to ride on the wrong side just so I can observe traffic and be able to steer out the way.

In fact; this habit started when I was little...I got hit by a car from behind and since then it has scarred me for life and that experience started the habit of doing this. all honestly...I feel safer to ride on the wrong side unless I'm riding on the shoulder with a fence between me and traffic then I would ride on the right side.

This might be counter-intuitive, but you are actually safer to ride with the traffic than against it. Trust me, I understand your fear, but it is also scarry for the person in the car or truck, because when you are coming at the car  you are doing something that is unpredictable. Unfortunately, this is likely unconvincing to you, but seriously in a car vs. bicycle situation... car wins!

I also see a lot of bicyclists that apparently do not know the laws, even that bike helmets are mandatory. A little bit of enforcement might work, but I think that education is best. That education should come from other bicyclists.

This is every cyclists worst nightmare, and although I have no hearing impairment I have been brushed by three side mirrors and the wakeboard rack on a powerboat so far this year. In one case the driver stopped to apologize to me, but, in the other cases, I have no idea what their distraction was. I take the full meter allotted so in case of stupidity I at least have somewhere to go. I can't imagine being deaf, but, would not want to be riding against traffic either. Another problem that cyclists face is dark tinted windows on the windshields and front windows of vehicles preventing us from making eye contact with drivers, one of the only ways that we can ensure that they are aware ofus and understand our intentions, and we theirs. It is worse in the US than in Canada, but, supposedly illegal everywhere, just another unenforced law.