One of the basic safety tips to avoid a bicycle accident is to ride with traffic, not against traffic. Riding against traffic can result in the accident known as the “wrong way wreck.” A common cause of the wrong way wreck occurs when a car turns into traffic by making a right turn out of a driveway. The attention of the driver is looking left at the oncoming traffic. The driver does not even think about or notice the cyclist coming the other direction, against traffic.
On a recent ride up the coast in North San Diego county, I witnessed a “wrong way wreck.” The circumstances were a little different than the normal bike accident, but the lesson learned is important. I was in a group of riders riding south from Oceanside back toward San Diego. The southern side of the coast highway is closed from Palomar Airport road south to Island Way. The City of Carlsbad is replacing an aging bridge over Encinitas Creek. When our group reached the road closure, we decided to ride down the bike path on the north side of the highway, against bike and car traffic, instead of taking the detour which would have led us inland. We were tired and did not want to add those extra miles. As we were riding south against traffic, a cyclist was heading north, in the bike lane. One of the riders in our group was riding too fast, and misjudged how to avoid the cyclist heading north. They both swerved the same way to avoid each other. The result: head on crash! Fortunately, neither rider or their bikes were seriously hurt. Our desire to avoid couple of extra miles resulted in a head on crash that could have been a serious accident. Cycling on busy roadways requires a constant attention to safety. We were fortunate that a serious accident was avoided.