One way street cycling

There are conflicting views about one way streets and cyclists.

Some cyclists feel one way streets are designated that way for the convenience of motorists, and being human-powered “active transportation” mode, the rules simply don’t apply to them and cyclists should be allowed to go the “wrong way” down the one way street. Another version of entitlement.

Others feel cyclists are sort-of motor vehicles, and for that reason or because of safety concerns, should obey the one way designations.

Anyone who drives will have noticed the signs, usually on freeway or limited access roads, that scream out “wrong way – recuillez”, that just might catch the occasional wrong way driver.  While in Cambridge MA last week I spotted a “wrong way” sign (without the recuillez bit) aimed at cyclists.

Stopped as I was at a red light, I grabbed the camera, turned it on, zoomed in, and tried to squint at the mini-pic on the back to grab a shot of it on a side street debouching onto my multi-lane road, all the while the other members of our (rented) vehicle screaming “it’s a green light” and cars moving around etc. All of which is to say, the pic is a bit fuzzy:

Now I must confess to being one of those optional cyclists that rides the road if I feel it is safe, the shoulder if it isn’t, and I’m trying to stop being a gutter-bunny, and I am willing to go out of my way to find off-street paths, I generally obey one-way signs except on very quiet streets except when I don’t because going the wrong way gets me off the busy street (ie Bronson) quickly so I just might use the sidewalk instead so I am not riding into cars, and I got there by riding the cross walk too.

Typical crazy cyclist to a motorist; being prudent and safe in my mind.



10 thoughts on “One way street cycling

  1. I know that Christie sidewalk shuffle well. I go rogue there. Fine me. Fix Bronson. (The temporary two-way on James with easy access to turn left onto Christie – what an IMPROVEMENT! Wish there could be an on-demand cycle/ped crossing there permanently.)

  2. Actually Lana I wasn’t thinking of the Christie street shuffle, although I know that corner well as my grandmother’s house was on that corner. I was thinking of Primrose at Bronson, which doesn’t line up with Lisgar, which is one way westbound. I used to have to cycle down Cooper, but how to get there from Primrose/Bronson? I tried left turning of Bronson legally a few times, but decided I liked my life better than the legality, so i switched to cycling across the cross walk, a few feet south on the bronson sidewalk, and one block against the traffic on Lisgar to get to Cooper via Percy (also going the wrong way…).

    Now I generally use Primrose – Cambridge – Laurier SBL: all very legal, all correct ways on the streets, with lights that work. Cycling can be both legal and safe if the traffic guys would cooperate. As for James, be sure to point out to our councillor, CFSC, CVO, and Robin Bennet how much better the two way segment is on James and lobby to make it permanent.

    1. Ah yes… so many jig jags across Bronson. Thanks for the tip – I’ll email all of the above about James.

  3. Cyclists tend to fall into one of two camps: those that understand the concept of bikes being vehicles when on city streets and should try to behave as such, and those that are simply PoBs (pedestrians on bikes). PoBs cycle as they walk – on sidewalks, through signs and lights, wrong-way, whatever. They don’t even think of themselves as “cyclists”, just folks trying to get somewhere faster than walking. And, I’m afraid, that seems to be to majority of people cycling.

    So with that mindset it’s easy to understand why someone would not wish to cycle around a bunch of one-way blocks instead of going a direct half a block. For instance, I live on James just west of Bay. To get to Bay to head north I have to head west to Percy, south to Florence, then east to Bay. It’s not a big deal, but it’s a waste of one’s own energy. So technically I should just walk my bike the half block to Bay and there I go. Due to the one-ways, coming from the west or NW to my place involves actually cycling way over to Lyon and doubling back along James, or south to Gladstone and back up Bay. Or simply down Percy from Gilmour or Somerset and a short wrong-way along James…

    That said, if one does such things and gets picked off by the Police one cannot complain or protest. Follow the rules of the road, or quietly pay your fine. Oh, and I should say that I consider myself to be a cyclist. I’m car-free, and have been riding in urban settings for 25 years. Of course, the odd bending of the rules might happen, though I draw the line at running red lights and signs.

  4. Peds on bikes — I like it. I guess that is what I am. Although as a ped I am much more likely to walk against the red light than as a cyclist. I do coast thru stop signs though, on really quiet streets, if there are no oncoming cars. If they can’t see me, then it wasn’t an offence, right??

    1. It’s a “rolling stop” in practice. With properly functional breaks you can coast up to the stop sign and stop if anyone is coming or keep coasting if not.

  5. I follow the rules most of the time. However, I must confess that I go rogue on Bell, for a very short distance, to reach Christie (please don’t tell anyone).

  6. I REALLY wish other cyclists would respect the rules of the road. I’ve been known to run a few stop signs (I also sometimes break the speed limit while driving), but I do mostly respect the rules, and I definitely don’t try and make lame excuses when I do break the law. If you do not want to obey the HTA, get off your god-damn bike, and walk it. If your ass is in the saddle, you are a vehicle and should behave accordingly.

  7. I think the worst is riding on the sidewalk. Very bad. Next for me is wrong way on a busy street/in a bike lane. Wrong way on a very quiet one-way? Not too bad. Running a red light – all depends on context. Running a four way stop (at a gentle coast, with no cars? meh).

    Remember the rules of the road were designed by motorists for cars. Most of them should be followed by bikes but some of them are just silly.

    Here is an example. East of King Edward if you want to traverse from Sandy Hill to the Ottawa River, you can take Beausoleil nicely and you hit St. Patrick, at a light. You can cross at the light and go down a 50 metre one way lane (in the wrong direction) and then be on quiet side streets. Or you can take very busy St. Patrick and very very busy King Edward. Which is the safe decision? In an ideal world, the CIty would put a bike cutout there, but this is Ottawa, not an ideal world. So I take the wrong way every time.

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