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The Persistence of Bike Salmon

7:58 AM PDT on April 19, 2010

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

Over the weekend on CommuteOrlando
, 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

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.
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
links to a video of an iPad turn signal for bicyclists.

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