Salmon swim upstream and are symbolic for their tenacity and instinctual urge to fight against the current. Salmon must swim upstream in order to breed. Some bicyclists, on the other hand, are getting labeled “salmon” lately. And it’s not because they are breeding or following their instincts. Some cyclists are riding in bicycle paths, however they are riding in the opposite direction of traffic. Are upstream riding cyclists being lazy?Or are they trying to get attention? Does it still feel safer to ride in a bicycle lane, even though it’s on the wrong side of the street?
I’m not sure why anyone would want to put themselves in harm’s way by riding the opposite direction of traffic in the bicycle lane. The bike lane is not just a benign, idle zone where anything goes on a bicycle. The roadway is not Disneyland, not even on the bike path. Bicycle riders in California are entitled to all of the same rights afforded other vehicles and must also follow all of the same rules of the road. If a bicyclist chooses to disobey the rules, even in the bicycle lane, and someone is harmed, that bicyclist must pay for all of the harm he or she has caused.
The label “salmoning” is funny and it is why it’s also funny that a famous actor was recently doing this and made headlines. Alec Baldwin was caught salmoning and received a ticket in New York City. He was riding against the stream of traffic on a one-way bike lane.
Can you imagine if an automobile did this on the highway? You would surely believe that this person had mental issues or was taking some kind of drug to do such a thing. What about riding the wrong way in the bike lane?
By riding against the flow of traffic, a bicyclist begins an unwelcoming game of chicken with other cyclists. Bicycle riders traveling in the wrong direction also creates a potential hazard for motorists crossing a bike lane where it’s legal to do so, since it’s second nature to scan in only one direction before crossing into an intersection. If a cyclist violates driver expectations, and appears from the wrong direction, this could cause a motorist to react in a very dangerous manner and to hurt someone else.
California law requires bicycle riders to ride in the same direction as traffic, and to maintain a position as far right as practicable unless they are avoiding an obstacle in their path. Bicycle riders who must pass busses are supposed to do so on the left side of the bus so as not to get cut off by a bus pulling up to a stop. Given the bicycle rider’s right to “claim the lane” and take up the whole lane under many circumstances, along with the new enforceable three foot law, there is no reason for any cyclist to endanger himself, pedestrians or motorists on the roadway by riding the wrong way up the bike path.