Dear reckless asshole:
I am a big booster of safety, and do believe in sharing the road. I especially appreciate your decision to use your own motive power instead of fossil fuels. But for the sake of all that is holy in this world, I beg of you
RIDE WITH THE FLOW OF TRAFFIC, NOT AGAINST IT!
Not only is it the law in the State of New Jersey, and most other states, too, but there are some basic, sensible reasons for doing this.
- I am bigger than you.
- I am faster than you.
- I will suffer a lot less damage than you in our collision.
Thus it is infinitely more important that I see you than you see me!
If you are riding against the flow of traffic, you will be able to see the cars coming towards you, but you will be cutting down on both your own and the driver’s reaction times, believe it or not, which makes it more likely that a car will hit you before you can swerve out of its path.
Let me explain this somewhat scientifically. Here you are:
…and here I am:
(In the interests of verisimilitude, the surly guy hanging on to the back quarter panel may not be riding along with me all the time.)
Now, let’s say you come turning our of a driveway, right into my line of traffic, going five miles an hour (not unreasonable with some of the people I’ve seen on bikes). I’m proceeding at 25 miles an hour. You are 50 feet ahead of me.
Normally, if you were sitting still, this would give me a little over one and a quarter seconds to swerve and avoid you. However, your forward motion during that same time would carry you ten feet closer to me, shaving a quarter second off the time available to me. Any driving instructor will tell you that more than half of that will be eaten up by my eyes telling my brain you are there, and then my brain telling my foot to slam the brake or my hands to swerve.
Now, let’s pretend that you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, and travelling WITH the flow of traffic, and we’re going the same speeds.
With 50 feet between us, I have my second and a quarter. But, by the time I get to where you were, you’ll be an extra ten feet ahead of me. Thus, more reaction time, more margin for error.
It’s that simple. Riding with the flow keeps you alive. Riding against the flow, you’re taking a big risk. Keep yourself alive. Follow the law.