Good Reasons Not to Ride Against Traffic in the D.C. Area

We’ve all probably seen them before: Those people on bikes riding across lanes of traffic or simply riding against traffic on busy city streets. Not only is it extremely dangerous for a bike rider to be doing this, but it can also be extremely irritating for those motorists on the road who have to accommodate for such erratic choices.

If you are one of those cyclists who has ever chosen to ride against traffic, you may have done so for a variety of reasons. Maybe you think it’s safer because you can see oncoming traffic. Maybe you don’t know the laws that pertain to cyclists. Maybe you just want to. But no matter the reason, the reality is that the practice is extremely unsafe. Following is a list of reasons why you shouldn’t ride against traffic:

Why Not to Ride Your Bike Against the Flow of Traffic

  • It’s against the law. You bike is considered a vehicle, just like a car or motorcycle might be. Therefore, many of the same traffic rules apply to you as they do for a motorist. Remember, on a bike, you ARE TRAFFIC, and need to be riding in such a way to follow traffic laws.
  • Riding up a hill can be dangerous. If you’re riding with traffic, any car traveling behind you will have greater visibility when approaching you. If you are traveling on the wrong side of the road, any car coming toward you from the other side of the hill will has a decreased reaction time to appropriately respond to you.
  • There is greater force behind an impact. The impact between a car and a bicycle is greater when they are traveling toward each other as opposed to one where both are traveling in the same direction. This can result in greater injury or even death.
  • A reduced amount of time for reacting. Both bicyclists and drivers have a reduced amount of reaction time to each other when they are traveling toward each other. The distance between both vehicles lessens in a shorter period of time than in other scenarios.
  • You may be more likely to be “doored.” A driver exiting his parked car is usually looking in his review or side mirrors to check for traffic, and may not see you coming toward him.

At Lewis & Tompkins, we’ve seen many bicycle accident cases throughout the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. area, and understand that in many scenarios, motorists are at fault for causing serious bike accidents. Often times, drivers just aren’t looking out for the needs or interests of bicyclists on the road.

Just remember that your bicycle safety starts when you choose to follow the safety rules and laws set up to protect you. Please be careful anytime you travel on the greater D.C. roadways, whether in a car or on a bike. If you have any questions about bicycle accidents, please feel free to contact us at 202-296-0666.