May 1, 2012

Why be afraid of one-way roads while biking?

A few months ago, I did a post asking some bikers about what route I should choose to get home. In it, I talked about concerns about one-way streets, on-street parking, and lack of intersections with traffic lights. One person commented:
"What don't you like about your commute?

Have you ever tried taking Steele to Westgate? I think that is a fairly easy ride and there are traffic lights at Mound and Sullivant.

I like that you're willing to try out new routes, bikers need to try this to find the best one for them."
I thought it was a good question about why I was uncomfortable riding on one-way residential streets. With streets like these, there is usually parking on either side. Like this:

Sure, looking at it doesn't make it look too terrible. But the problem is that the cars are parked randomly on either side. Sometimes there won't be a car parked for 1000 feet, other times cars are bumper-to-bumper for the majority of the road. In other words, I stay in the middle because I don't want to weave in and out of traffic. But unlike two-way residential streets where people expect to slow down to pass/yield to on-coming traffic, the cyclist is slowing everything down.

In this picture, I'm using Google Maps to look backwards and there's a truck incoming! I feel obliged to let the car/truck through but I prefer to do it when there's a lull in the amount of park cars. I sometimes feel as though I may take too much time before the car/truck decides that I wasted too much of his/her time and he/she will just move on whether I've moved aside or not.

Is this irrational? Yeah, for the most part it's irrational. But it's still something I think about when I'm on one-way residential streets and one of the reasons I try to avoid them.

Cool how Funions are made link of the day:


  1. 1. Ride faster and you won't get passed by cars. :)
    2. This seems like more an issue with the width of the street rather than a one-way vs. two-way problem.
    3. I understand the desire to not be in the way, but the volume on most residential streets is low enough that you shouldn't be getting passed too often. And drivers shouldn't be going too fast on a local street, so blocking the way for a short distance until you can get to the side shouldn't be too big a delay for them.

    1. 1. Why didn't I think of that??

      2. I guess I'm confused. If there were areas with parking on both sides of the street and room for a car and a bike to pass through, then yeah, I'd be happier. But overall, I like two-way streets better because people are accustomed to having to slow down to let people through.

      3. Today on my way home I remembered that I use a one-way residential street every day. However, I think my concern arises because I don't see many other bikers out here so I irrationally fear that people will lose their mind at an "asshole" biker and gun it. That hasn't stopped me just as fear of weight gain hasn't stopped me from eating Chipotle over and over again.

  2. Two-way streets do provide nice traffic calming.

  3. You aren't holding up traffic in that case - the parked cars are!


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