Eyes on the Street: Wrong Way

Wrong Way Bike Sign
Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/8698135@N07/5471924125/##c34/Flickr##

I’m really into this signage, spotted by Flickr user c34 on Broadway at 18th Street. I think the bike symbol should be bigger, but in general, NYC should have more of these. What’s your take?

  • Danny G

    I like these, too. It also helps that the color balance on this photo is done really well and makes the sign look even better.

    And I’m sure the designers of the sign also debated just how big that bike symbol should be relative to the text. But good stuff.

  • This kind of sign just highlights that one-way streets are irrational and problematic. The avenues are so wide. They should all be converted to two-way streets.

  • PaulCJr

    Sure we should have more of these signs. But these signs are going to do nothing to curb wrong way riding unless there is enforcement of the rule.

  • I like the sign a lot. It’s quite visible and seems right-sized to me. Much bigger would feel heavy-handed. More of these might help embolden fellow peds and cyclists to “call out” egregious wrong-way riding and start changing behavior.

  • Clarence Eckerson Jr

    Yes. If people want to fight to change them into two-way bike ways like PPW I am all for that. But until then, ride legally.

  • vnm

    Awesome. We need more of these.

  • We love these. We’re asking DOT to install them on both sides of the poles on PPW.

  • Daphna

    The protected bike lane on Broadway should be converted to two-way. Especially north of 34th Street, there is no other protected bike lane on which to head uptown. The 8th Avenue and 1st Avenue bike lanes only extend to 34th Street. I welcome bikers using that lane as two-way since there is no other safe alternative.

    The bike community should be advocating for more safe bike lanes, not forcing bicyclists out of these lanes onto dangerous streets with no bike infrastructure.

    The 8th Avenue bike lane needs to be extended to 60th Street. The 9th Avenue bike lane needs to be extended to join with the Columbus Avenue bike lane at 77th Street. The Broadway bike lane should be converted to two-way.

    When the existing bike infrastructure is used for more than it was meant for, such as protected lanes being used for two-way instead of one-way riding, that shows that more infrastructure is needed. The focus should be on building a continuous network of protected lanes, not on restricting or policing the use of the current lanes.

    Sidewalk riding dropped on Prospect Park West when a safe alternative was provided: a protected bike lane. No amount of signage would have stopped the sidewalk riding without giving bicyclists some other safe option.

    Wrong way use of bike lanes will stop when streets going the opposite direction also have protected bike lanes. Signs will not stop the two-way use when there is no safe alternative, and the focus should not be on stopping it, but rather on getting more safe lanes.

  • Matthew Arnold

    They should say “Wrong way, ASSHOLE,” or possibly “ASSHOLE SALMON.” Breaks through the clutter a bit more. But otherwise, great.

  • Hilda

    Love these. How about a cheap camera decoy for additional effect?

  • Daphna gets it right. Infrastructure should support people, not the other way around. Do we blame the fish for trying to swim in an empty aquarium?

  • Daphna

    I do not understand why Matthrew Arnold or anyone else would have such anger against a bicyclist who is doing nothing more than trying not to get killed or injured. The protected bike lane on Broadway is large enough for most of the length of it to safely be ridden two-way. It should have been built that way to begin with. All the nearby avenues to head uptown on have no bike infrastructure. So I completely understand why bicyclists would need to use that lane as two-way. Until safe alternatives are provided, I do not begrudge anyone riding uptown on the protected lane on Broadway.

    Bike riders need to unite instead of getting angry at other riders, who might just be too timid or fearful to make a go up 6th Avenue or Park Avenue or 3rd Avenue. At least those riders are out there riding. Everything should be done to get ridership up and to encourage it, not to assault it.

  • fdr

    This is an official sign? I thought DOT signs said Department of Transportation on them.

  • Ian Turner

    I think the cycle symbol is the right size. It is the wrong way for automobiles too, after all.

  • The path is wide enough for THREE way traffic (whatever that would be). The sign is stupid. If people want to ride both ways, and can do so safely (they can) then simply stripe a yellow line down the middle instead of putting up arbitrary limits.

    It’s like putting up a sign that says “sidewalk is closed” when there is clearly no reason to not sue the sidewalk. People will use it anyway.

  • Aaron Bialick

    A contra-flow bike lane freeing bike users from the constraints of multi-lane one way streets imposed for no purpose other than moving lots of large motor vehicles would’ve been better, no?

  • Streetsman

    Could use one right at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge. Both Sides.

  • Bill from Brooklyn

    @Daphna, biking in the wrong direction is quite dangerous and should be universally discouraged and not encouraged or dismissed. It is dangerous to pedestrians and to fellow cyclists, since it is unexpected. Salmons and sidewalk riders are two areas where there should be real enforcement, as opposed to the current silly, pointless and ultimately chilling enforcement of those who yield at red lights and then proceed. One is dangerous the other is not. More of these signs please.

  • Bill from Brooklyn, why do you suggest taking money from riders whose only crime is to want to travel uptown safely?

  • Michael null Steiner

    The much nicer signs of course are
    and … 🙂

  • Michael null Steiner
  • Charlie

    A more complete bicycle network would help, but infrastructure isn’t always to blame. I ride the lanes on 9th, 10th, 20th, and 21st in Manhattan a lot and I’m constantly having to swerve around some jerk salmoning – even though there’s a bike lane going his or her direction one block away.

    There are certain cultural norms such as flushing a public toilet, not spitting on the bus, or disposing of your trash in the cafeteria that most people follow even though there isn’t a penalty for not doing so. The same needs to be done with cycling. Unfortunately, I’m just not sure how it can be accomplished.

  • Chris

    Bill from Brooklyn, why do you suggest taking money from riders whose only crime is to want to travel uptown safely?

    Actually, those riders’ only crime is riding against traffic. Why does he suggest taking money from them? Because they are breaking the law. This isn’t rocket science.

  • Aaron Bialick

    Michael null Steiner –

    Here are the Danish ones too:
    http://engrospriser.dk/typo3temp/pics/a59598a192.jpg (“Undtaget” means “excepted”)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/daamcrew1/3380505522/ (“One-way Street – cycles and scooters excepted”)

  • Daphna

    @Bill from Brooklyn.
    1) You are wrong that wrong way riding is dangerous on a large protected bike lane, such as the one on Broadway. Most of the length of it could support a two-way lane. It is not like wrong way riding in a street where the cyclist coming the wrong way is expected and might not be seen until the last minute due to sight lines being blocked by autos, and where there is often minimal space to maneuver because of driver behavior.
    2) The significant danger that a bicyclist faces on a street without safe bike infrastructure vastly outweighs the tiny danger that that salmon bicyclist presents to fellow bicyclists in a protected lane.

    You are asking for nuance to be drawn about what really constitutes dangerous cycling and you yourself are not looking at all the nuances.

  • Joe R.

    I’m honestly of two minds here. On the one hand, everything Daphna and Jonathan say makes sense. There sometimes aren’t protected bike lanes going in the direction you wish to go, and there is plenty of room here to simply make this lane bidirectional. Very salient point made by Jonathan that infrastructure should support people, not the other way around. I’ve even alluded to that myself multiple times on the whole issue of trying to get cyclists to stop at a multitude of red lights, as opposed to simply designing infrastructure so they don’t need to.

    I also agree with Charlie about cultural norms. The problem to me isn’t wrong-way riding perse, but rather the way wrong way riders go about this. If you’re in a bike lane and encounter a wrong-way cyclist, by convention ( at least in the USA ) you should go right, and so should they. Pedestrians often do the same on sidewalks. The problem right now is often BOTH riders really don’t know what to do. If one decides to stick with convention and go right, while the other goes left, you’ll have unhappy results. If it was ingrained in all cyclists to always pass cyclists in the opposite direction by going to your right (and incidentally also to overtake slower cyclists going in the same direction on the left), then “salmoning” really wouldn’t be the issue it is, at least for cyclists riding in the right direction. It may still be an issue for pedestrians, but honestly in NYC pedestrians should always look both ways when crossing, regardless of if the street is one way or not. Cars do have a reverse gear you know.

  • Pandabear

    Daphna, it’s entirely true that most of the protected lanes could fit two-way riding safely. That doesn’t make salmoning safe on those lanes. People trying to cross the street often look one way; it’s unfair to saddle them with the risk of being blindsided by wrong-way traffic. For that matter, drivers turning across a lane at an intersection may only be looking out for bikes coming in the legal direction. I agree that we should make more protected lanes two-way, but we oughta do it right, by adding appropriate markings and signage so drivers and people crossing know to look out.

    The reality in New York is that it’s only safe to look both ways, even on one way streets–but the other reality is that people won’t, and we can’t really expect them to.

  • Daphna, you are wrong. Besides being illegal, salmoning is very dangerous for the reasons Joe R. mentions above. A wrong way rider traveling on the left side of a road expects the right way rider to move out into traffic they cannot see. Wrong way riders suck and I tell them so every time I encounter them. You may have a point about the Broadway bike lane being wide enough, but change the rule, don’t excuse your behavior and threaten other cyclists and peds.

  • Janice Dougherty

    Bicycles are NOT motor vehicles. Bicycle riders are pedal pushing pedestrians. The laws that often, but inconsistently, make them equivalent need to be revisited and rethought. When you ride/walk/drive unsafely, you cause a problem. But in fact, a pedestrian or bicycle rider will see a problem coming and be seen by a driver, or a parked driver going to exit their door, more readily if they are coming at them from the front, than from behind. All you newbies and anal-retentives don’t want to accept this, but it is reality. Doing what is safe should never be illegal.

  • Pandabear, said it nicer than me.
    I run lights, because I find it safer, but I do it so as to not endanger anyone else, I am very care about that.
    Salmoning is dangerous for people and riders around the cyclist doing it.

  • Moocow, thanks for clarifying.

    Salmoning is more dangerous than right-way cycling; but Daphna hits the nail on the head: the fact that reasonable adult people are doing it, and pretty frequently, is a pretty good argument for building two-way protected bike lanes in order to allow people who are already riding there to ride safely.

  • Daphna

    1) What about the safety of the salmon rider? Does that person’s safety not count? When there is no other safe place for them to go, does the inconvenience to others, such as pedestrians (who now have to look both ways) and right way cyclists (who now have to look), outweigh the safety concerns of the wrong way cyclist?
    Keep in mind that bicyclists are extremely vulnerable and know it. A bicyclist will get hurt if he/she hits anything. Salmon bicyclists that I see go slow and carefully and yield whenever needed. Until a safe lane is built a block away in the opposite direction, they are just making the only choice that is safe for them.

    The biking community needs to unite and stop picking on their own. More bicyclists on the streets means that motorists get more used to having to look for bicyclists, and that means safer streets for all riders. We need to build ridership and not put up impediments. More riders, even ones who salmon up a protected bike lane as a small part of their commute, make the streets safer for all bicyclists out there because the real danger comes from motorists. There is strength and safety in numbers. We should all be friendly to each other and not scold one another.

    The sign should say “Thank You for Riding”.

  • MFlynn

    Are there two bike lanes on two way streets, that are in the street grid, and not bordered by a park or river etc? In other words cars are coming from only one side of the lane. The two way lanes on Prospect Park West and the Bklyn waterfront are like greenways on the street. There are no cars crossing or turning across them.

  • vnm

    Daphna, there are two separate issues here, the lanes and the signs. Regardless of whether or not the lanes should be two-way protected lanes, right now, they are one-way lanes. Therefore, riding upstream against the flow of traffic is illegal and unexpected, and angers peds and motorists and makes them antagonistic toward all cyclists, safe and unsafe alike. As long as the lanes remain one-way, these signs are an improvement because they add clarity to how to behave on them as they are currently configured.

  • TKO

    I agree bigger! Wonderful to see!

  • Daphna

    1) This is a protected lane so there is no issue of angering motorists because the bikes are on the other side of a row of parked cars.
    2) Many motorists are angry at bicyclists without cause and no amount of good behavior is going to change that, because their anger is at not wanting to share street space period.
    3) Pedestrians break every traffic rule possible for them to break. But you make the assumption that they will be angered if they see bicyclists breaking rules when they themselves break all the rules. If they do get angry, then they are hypocritical.

    The focus should be on getting more infrastructure built and increasing ridership.
    There is a backlash against cyclists and it has nothing to do with cyclist behavior. As I said, a person riding a bike is extremely vulnerable and knows it. That bike rider is going to yield and is going to make sure he/she does not hit anyone. So no antagonism is going to arise from contraflow riding in a protected bike lane because the bicyclist has to be careful or he/she will be hurt.
    We need to be friendly to each other. We should let people make safe choices in how they ride. And if a safe choice is not available, then we should all work like crazy to advocate for one instead of wasting energy criticizing each other. The percentage of people biking is NYC is too small to already start tearing it down.

  • Daphna, you are so on target with your comments it’s frightening. “If a safe choice is not available, then we should all work like crazy to advocate for one instead of wasting energy criticizing each other.” Great point!

  • “There is a backlash against cyclists and it has nothing to do with cyclist behavior.”

    Do you mind if we use that in our fundraising literature?

  • Chris


    from your twitter

    “Louise hit it out of the park in the Brooklyn Paper today:
    http://t.co/8XW3PXf. Def on short list for Secy of Ed for Palin 2012.”


  • Daphna, I wish you would consider that when you enter the an intersection, at the cross street, there will be surprised people. Also that salmon are not likely to yield, and force a dangerous interaction. And hypocritical or not, jaywalking peds certainly will loudly complain about bikes not following the law. I will help you fight for better lanes on all avenues, and legal contra flow lanes, but please stop jeopardizing the safety of fellow riders.

  • I am as frustrated as anyone with the lack of an uptown on-grid protected bike facility. I ride down Broadway with my 8 year old daughter most Saturday mornings from 59th Street to Union Square where she has a class. When the class is over, we have to either take our bikes on the subway to get home to the Upper East Side where we live, or detour over to the Hudson River Bike path and then cross back east once we’re uptown. It’s a huge detour and inconvenience, and it’s still not as safe as an on-grid protected bike path on Broadway would be. I have been nagging DoT tirelessly for an uptown protected bike route, and doing lots of other things to make it a reality. I’m extremely hopeful that one will be installed on First Avenue this year, although that would not make a very good matched pair with Broadway, several blocks to the west.

    I’m glad to have have you as an ally in the effort to get the infrastructure cyclists need and deserve Daphna. But one thing I would never do is treat Broadway as a bi-directional bike path. There is already a serious problem with pedestrians refusing to respect cyclists’ right of way; this hazard presented by errant pedestrians is magnified when there are counterflow cyclists. Even though my daughter is more skilled than the average 8 year old cyclist, she has a serious problem navigating around counterflow cyclists we encounter, when there are so many pedestrians she also has to look out for. There are no set rules for how counterflow cyclists should resolve head-on conflicts with other cyclists, and some of them are aggressive in refusing to yield the right of way. Even when it’s a little girl they are dealing with.

    You say that the path is wide enough to accommodate two-way traffic, but you’re not really referring to the path itself, which is 4 feet wide. You’re referring to the tan pedestrian overflow areas next to the lane. sure, most of the time, those areas are empty, and counterflow cyclists can use them. But during rush hour, and when the weather warms up, those areas are full of pedestrians, who rightly expect to have the right of way in them. There is not enough dedicated space for cyclists to accommodate 2-way traffic.

    A bi-directional path can work magnificently along side a break in the grid, like Prospect Park West or Kent Avenue in Brooklyn. But it really is a much harder thing to make function safely in the middle of the grid–such as on Broadway–especially given the high volumes of foot traffic and so many non-New Yorkers to boot. My preference would be to carry the 8th Ave. path uptown until about 38th Street, then divert it two blocks west to 10th, then carry it up Amsterdam all the way to Harlem. It should be paired with an extension of the Columbus Avenue path all the way down to 34th to meet the existing 9th Ave. facility.

    Once again, I’m with you in the fight for an uptown protected path. But please don’t ride counterflow in the Broadway bike path as it is currently configured. Thanks from both of us!

  • “I will help you fight for better lanes on all avenues, and legal contra flow lanes, but please stop jeopardizing the safety of fellow riders.”

    Did I miss the part where Daphna talks about personally riding the wrong way? This seems to me to be just a human capable of empathy. In any case I agree with everything Daphna says, and I have never ridden counterflow on Broadway.

    Let’s stick to signs. Will they be effective? Or rather, will they be tested? I doubt it, because unfortunately this is not the sort of assumption the DOT likes to check. But hypothetically, if the signs are not effective then should they be there? My feeling is that they will only boost resentment and chest-beating about rules, widening the divide between those who take long detours and those who do not have that luxury.

  • JRB

    I also like “Ride With Traffic,” MUTCD R9-3C:


    Also, perhaps they should be mounted lower on the poll, closer to cyclists’ eye height.

  • Joe R.

    “We need to be friendly to each other. We should let people make safe choices in how they ride. And if a safe choice is not available, then we should all work like crazy to advocate for one instead of wasting energy criticizing each other. The percentage of people biking is NYC is too small to already start tearing it down.”

    I agree wholeheartedly here. I’ll also admit for the record in the past of doing my share of criticizing both wrong-way riders, and also commercial cyclists in general, for their behavoir. Lately though I’m starting to share the same feelings as Nathan H., Daphna, and Jonathan. I’m recognizing that often cyclists choose behavoir which is either illegal, or annoying, or both, simply because they have no viable safe choices. This is why growing the number of cyclists is key. If we do that, the demand for reasonable cycling infrastructure will grow proportionately. Reasonable cycling infrastructure should mean exactly that-a place where a person can travel by bicycle where they are safe from motor vehicles, and also with a minimal number of places where they need to slow down or stop. The first requirement is obviously more important. An expressway certainly offers a place where you can fulfill the second requirement, but nobody would want to ride on one! Once we have a reasonably well-connected network in place which is safe, we can think of ways to keep cyclists in motion as much as possible, perhaps by running portions of the network above or below particularly congested streets. The thought here is that safety will only attract so many new riders. The rest will be attracted by both safety, plus trip times that match or beat other modes. The latter is especially important if we wish to significantly grow the number of outer borough commuters. Manhattan commuters are the low-hanging fruit in this game. Outer borough commuters will be harder to reach, but can conceiveably greatly outnumber Manhattan commuters.

  • @NoBikeLane is not delusional, but satirical.

  • These days delusional and satirical seem to be the same thing. It starts at the top.

    Stupid hierarchy.

  • Lauri Schindler

    I like these signs, but since the laws apply to both bikes and cars, the signs should have images of both. How about adding “wrong way” to the stencils in the bike lanes?


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