Right/Wrong Direction


Christine asked: Are bicyclists supposed to ride in the same direction as auto traffic while in bike lanes, especially those with arrows pointing in that direction painted on the ground within the bike lanes? If a cyclist is injured because a car pulls out of a side street in front of them, say making a right-hand turn and the car driver didn’t see the cyclist coming up the bike lane on the wrong side of the road, would the driver be held 100% liable for the accident? This has nearly happened to me a couple of times, not because I don’t look right first, but I look right, then left, then right again as I proceed to make my right turn, and as happens a lot where I live and travel, there’s lots of parked cars blocking the view and the cyclists come flying up from the right and are then fighting mad and giving me one finger salutes, yelling curses etc, like I have broken a law by nearly hitting them. I think they should be riding on the other side of the road in the other bike lane with the arrows pointing the direction they are going. Am I right or wrong? I also ride my bike a lot and would like to know for myself. Obviously, I don’t ever want to hit a bike rider, or be hit myself.


Bicyclists are operating vehicles and have the same rights and duties as other drivers, with few exceptions. One of the most basic duties is driving on the right side when in the roadway. A bike lane is part of the roadway and the arrows demonstrate what the law says.

Bicyclists may also use an unmarked paved shoulder or sidewalk and may ride in either direction.

Riding against traffic is unlawful in the roadway, including a bike lane, and dangerous in all cases for a lot of reasons, but primarily because drivers entering the roadway are not expecting a vehicle coming from the right and seldom look in that direction.

You will have to ask an attorney about the potential liability resulting from unlawful acts.

See the posts about “Bike Lanes” and “Rights and Duties” on this site for the actual laws related to the above and more information.

6 Comments on “Right/Wrong Direction

  1. Well that’s good to know. Because I was biking west on the side walk against traffic and she was traveling east on the road way. I rode across straight the side street as she made an right had turn onto me and knocked be about 20 feet. I had a concussion, broke my new cell phone, cracked my eye brow open and tore my right leg up where she hit me. I had all kind of witnesses..but felt bad that it was my fault and should had seen her turning. She got out of the car and apologized. I should had called the cops..I did not know the laws about this last year.. Could had made a few extra bucks..lol

  2. the recommendation is to ride with the traffic. It is the safer way. I personally still cannot understand why so many cyclist bike against the traffic!

    • The reason we ride facing traffic is because as children in the 60’s, it was drilled in our heads to do so. I just came online today, at the age of 60 and found this to be wrong. Sorry.

  3. Jake, No one can assess fault from what you wrote. If there a traffic light? If you are hit you should always call the police. For many reasons, one is they keep statistics on pedestrian and cycling injuries, they use them to make safety improvements to roadways. Good luck.

  4. Jake,
    If you were crossing a side street with no traffic devices, you were likely in a crosswalk, which is defined as the connections between sidewalk areas across a roadway, and need not have pavement markings to be a legal crosswalk. When in a crosswalk, bicyclists have the same rights a duties as pedestrians and drivers must stop or yield. See the posts about “Sidewalks and Crosswalks”.

  5. In ALL cases bicyclists NEED to use common sense and watch out for cars also who may just not see them. It’s not just our duty as drivers to watch out for bicyclists. Bicyclists and pedestrians have laws to follow. When a cyclist crosses a four lane highway weaving through cars only feet from a crosswalk because they didn’t want to deal with going to the corner and gets hit should he be somewhat responsible for the accident? He did not cross at a proper place. In my case I was turning right, had checked the sidewalk two to three times while waiting for traffic to clear from the left. Then just as I started to move forward to turn right out of a parking lot there this man was at my front bumper. I did knock him off his bike. He did not take responsibility and cross at the corner, instead he weaved through those four lanes of traffic and up onto the west side of the road riding north on the sidewalk. He even said, I seen you had your head turned but yet he didn’t take the extra precaution and think I might not see him. I had already seen the sidewalk was clear for a mile up the road! Even though he did not cross at a proper place I WAS HELD AND AM BEING HELD 100% responsible. He got up and walked about was perfectly fine but like the comment above I guess he decided he could use a little extra money… Like $25k! I’m so pissed off. Bicyclists have responsibilities too!

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