The Persistence of Bike Salmon

19409792_1ecef67472.jpgThis sign is in London. Do you think anyone got the message? (Photo: Salim Virji via Flickr)

Over the weekend on CommuteOrlando Blog, Keri McCaffrey posted a video showing a bicyclist riding in the wrong direction on a Florida street. After pointing out how this might have ended badly for the rider, she poses the question "Why do they do this?":

Riding against traffic accounts for 45 percent of bike-v-car crashes in Orlando. The majority of those are intersection crashes because the bicyclist comes from an unexpected direction.… Despite the numerous conflicts people experience from this behavior, they don’t connect the dots. Why?

And how do we change that?

McCaffrey and many others on CommuteOrlando Blog practice "vehicular cycling," a style of riding in which the cyclist essentially acts like any other vehicle on the road. There’s a long and ongoing debate between vehicular cyclists — who often oppose the construction of bike-specific infrastructure — and those who believe that striped bike lanes and similar facilities are a good way to get more people out biking, thereby achieving safety in numbers and a more welcoming environment for people who might feel reluctant to ride otherwise. There’s no need to reopen that debate here.

But you don’t have to be a vehicular cyclist to wonder, as McCaffrey does, "Why do people do this?" As the streets of New York fill up with spring cyclists, the number of "salmon" is rising — and quite often, they are endangering other bikers as well as themselves with their wrong-way riding. It’s one of the most frustrating and hazardous phenomena I encounter on my bike on a regular basis.

Why do you think people persist in this behavior? Is it simply because they can’t be bothered to ride a block further to get to a street that goes the right way? Do you have any ideas about how to get them to stop?

More from around the network: Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space reports that biking has become an election issue in Toronto. RailLife.com writes about housing and transportation costs in Arizona — and how the state’s new light rail has made it easier for many people to reduce their car use. And Reno Rambler links to a video of an iPad turn signal for bicyclists.

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