I would like to propose the idea of changing the side of the street we ride on.
Biking on the left you can:
-See oncoming traffic. No surprises from fast cars in the bike lane behind you.
-See people in parked cars, and they can see you. You're less likely to get doored.
-Even if they do open their door it would be a glancing blow, and not a deadly jam onto the sharp edge of the door.
I know this is bound to be unpopular, but it seems to have it's positive points.
Of course this could only work if there was a city-wide consensus. Hence the discussion.
What do you think?
I'll let others explain why this would be dangerous, but Warren, you might be interested to know that the upcoming protected bike lane on Jackson will probably be on the left side of the road. See the description and photo of Jackson near the end of this article.
You're riding the wrong way (against traffic, on the left-hand side of the street). A car makes a right turn from a side street, driveway, or parking lot, right into you. They didn't see you because they were looking for traffic only on their left, not on their right. They had no reason to expect that someone would be coming at them from the wrong direction.
Even worse, you could be hit by a car on the same road coming at you from straight ahead of you. They had less time to see you and take evasive action because they're approaching you faster than normal (because you're going towards them rather than away from them). And if they hit you, it's going to be much more forceful impact, for the same reason. (Both your and their velocities are combined.)
How to avoid this collision:
Don't ride against traffic. Ride with traffic, in the same direction.
Riding against traffic may seem like a good idea because you can see the cars that are passing you, but it's not. Here's why:
One study showed that riding the wrong way was three times as dangerous as riding the right way, and for kids, the risk is seven times greater. (source)
Nearly one-fourth of crashes involve cyclists riding the wrong way. (source) Some readers have challenged this, saying if 25% of crashes are from going the wrong way, then riding the right way is more dangerous because it accounts for 75% of crashes. That thinking is wrong. First off, only 8% of cyclists ride the wrong way, yet nearly 25% of them get hit -- meaning wrong-way cyclists really are three times more likely to get hit than those who ride the proper way. Second, the problem with wrong-way biking is that it promotes crashes, while right-way biking does not. For example, cyclists running stop signs or red lights is 17% of their crashes. (source) But do we therefore conclude that not running signals causes 83% of crashes?! (Hint: No.)
FYI: Riding on the left side is legal on one-way streets (that has at least two lanes). But the dooring issue remains.
11-15-1505- Position of bicycles and motorized pedal cycles on roadways - Riding on roadways and bicycle paths
"Any person operating a bicycle or motorized pedal cycle upon a one way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near the left hand curb or edge of such roadway as practicable."
All good points why this is not an idea whose time has come. Additional anecdotal evidence exists in the form of the City of Chicago experiment with CTA buses traveling the opposite direction on one way streets; e.g. Jackson is one way eastbound with the exception of a lane for buses on the north edge of the road going westbound. Pedestrian going southbound reaches the intersection, sees a "One Way" sign pointing eastbound, looks to the west for oncoming traffic, sees none, and steps off the curb into the path of a westbound CTA bus traveling at speed. I had a friend who worked for the corporation counsel in the mid-80's and his sole specialty was defending the City in reversible bus lane accidents. He was really busy.
It's hard enough to get people to pay attention to high probability events without mixing it up with low probability events which run contrary to common experience.