Monday, August 29, 2011

Wrong-way cyclist almost gets hit by right-turning car (mine).

Today, in north Arlington VA, as I was pulling out to turn right from a side street, a cyclist came barreling down the wrong way on a sidewalk. He, a teenager, did not slow down, and might well have been struck. 

I'm all for people using bicycles non-competitively, for exercise and personal transportation (and to keep the environment green and cool); but a bicycle is still a "vehicle" and has to follow traffic laws. 

When a cyclist (jogger or fast-walking pedestrian) travels the wrong way, a motorist is looking left for oncoming traffic and expects pedestrians, cyclists, or joggers going the wrong way to notice that he will not see them and to stop.

I know, in grade school, they teach pedestrians to walk facing traffic, but cyclists should not do this because of the speed issue, and joggers should at least be prepared to stop or else jog behind turning vehicles (in north Arlington most of them do).  But wrong-way cyclists don’t seem to stop.

Here’s a site on wrong-way cycling.

The Arlington VA Police Department website confirms that Virginia law requires cyclists to ride with traffic, not against it, here.  Note rule 3, second section, "ride with traffic, not against it, in single file".  Apparently that's true on streets with bicycle lanes (there are many of them in Arlington).   If there is a bicycle lane on only one side, it may be OK to ride wrong way if you stop at every intersection.

Many cities have ordinances against riding bicycles on sidewalks. I know Minneapolis did when I lived there. 

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