"If riding with the traffic is like playing Russian roulette (quite an exaggeration), then riding against traffic is like playing Russian roulette with five bullets in the chambers."
- Ken Kifer
One of the nice things about "off-season" bicycling is... I am rarely disrupted by other cyclists, since I'm almost alone out there. (Other than thousands of motor vehicles, of course.)
Once the weather starts getting nice, they're back.
Who are they?
The against-traffic cyclists, riding straight toward me on a "chicken" collision course.
They come in all sizes and ages.
Evidently they learned that pedestrians fare best when they can see oncoming traffic, and assume the same is true for bicyclists.
You are far more likely to have an accident when riding against traffic, than you are to be rear-ended.
Think about it. You are an accident-waiting-to-happen at every intersection, where motorists aren't expecting you, or looking for you. You're approaching oncoming traffic way faster than if you're moving in the same direction as traffic, giving both yourself and the oncoming driver less time to react. Since you're obviously not concerned about the rules of the road, or the established order of things, you're unpredictable. (Squirrely.)
I'm rarely as exasperated by motorist behavior, as I am by an against-traffic bonehead cyclist, approaching straight toward me on a busy road, and intending to occupy the same space as I am (legally) occupying.
Where will they go when we converge? Where should I go?
Against-traffic cycling is illegal in all 50 states.
Idaho: "Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway ..." (49-717 - there are some exceptions for one-way streets, passing, etc., but none of the exceptions permit riding against traffic.)
If you're in an accident while riding against traffic... you're the guilty party. Case closed.
Unfortunately, the behavior perpetuates itself, because adults who ride against traffic teach their kids to ride against traffic. And at least in this jurisdiction, there is nobody "officially" teaching otherwise. If you're riding against traffic and a cop happens by... there's almost a 0% chance you'll get hassled by The Man. Pathetic!
Imagine if cops ignored drivers headed down the street the wrong way!
I've called and emailed the police on numerous occasions to complain... usually after I have a scary near-miss with somebody. The standard reply is... "It's against the law, but it's not a priority violation." (In other words, they'll give it some attention when a bike fatality is involved, at least until the victim is scraped off the road. I just hope it's not me they're scraping.)
If I try to correct somebody's against-traffic riding, the kids ignore me, and the "adults" [I use the term loosely] curse at me. I imagine the law-enforcement community could command a bit more respect. If cops were on bikes, dealing with cyclists coming straight toward 'em (an almost-daily occurrance for me, for 5 or 6 months of the year), I'm thinkin' it might get the cop's attention!