Now, maybe it’s common knowledge but I have never quite understood the rules of the road when it comes to cycling. I initially learned in a quaint little housing development where it didn’t so much matter where you were riding because the speed limit was fifteen miles per hour and people were considerate of pedestrians and cyclists.

Then, we moved out to the country where the rules were not clear but they certainly mattered. People fly down country roads, cruising around every twist and bend. The shoulders are often narrow or non-existent and it was often necessary to bike on main county and state routes.

I seem to remember being told to bike with traffic. As in, bike on the shoulder of the right lane, where in America cars drive. This just seemed dangerous to me. I can’t see what is coming behind me! To make matters worse, I usually ride with some headphones in my ears and cannot hear what is behind me.

As far as New York State goes, and generally the rest of the United States, riding with the flow of traffic is the law.

There are a few reasons for this. One, is that the rules of the road are for slower traffic to always be in the right lane and faster traffic to be able to pass in the left lane. Okay, I get that.

However, the second most prominent reason for bikers to ride with traffic is somewhat confounding. It is generally agreed upon that it is easier for moving vehicles to see a biker from behind rather than coming at them. Three is also a general consensus that you are better off being hit from behind than in a head on collision.

I still disagree. It just seems more logical to have both the motorist and the cyclist be able to see each other coming, rather than placing all of the responsibility on the driver to maneuver his or her much larger vehicle around the bike.

So, now I know what the rules are. Maybe it’s time to take the headphones out and go with the flow of traffic.

  • Frank Mlinar

    I hope this was written tongue in cheek. I am a bicycle rider and I ride country roads and city roads. I will not wear earphones. I want to hear what is going on around me. I use a rear view mirror. I want to be able to know what is going on behind me if necessary, such as traffic approaching. I ride on the right. Always. I am traveling relatively fast so the closing speed between me and the vehicle is less, giving the driver more time to think about me. Drivers do not expect to see bicycles coming at them. If the bicyclist does something unexpected, the driver has much less time to react. At crossroads, the bicyclist on the right uses the traffic signals appropriately. I don’t know what the bicyclist on the left would do except possibly reverting to a pedestrian. Always be predictable.