Wrong way bicycling is just plain evil.
Bicycling against traffic is extremely dangerous to the rogue rider, as motorists don’t expect bicyclists coming the wrong way and make turns into the bike rider’s path. But wrong way riding is also hazardous to other bicyclists. The greatest danger I face riding on the road comes from other bicycle riders (I won’t call them “bicyclists”, but rather young motorists temporarily bicycling for convenience.) Tampa Bay features an abundance of bicyclists riding without lights, failing to signal turns, and, of course, riding the wrong way.
And, wrong way bicycling absolutely infuriates motorists. They might not scream at bicyclists rolling through stop signs, since most motorists do this as well. But no cyclist behavior frosts motorists more than a bicyclist riding against traffic.
To be sure, some of the wrong way bicycling behavior occurs because of poor street design. For example, one way streets that don’t facilitate bike travel to desired destinations. Or multi-lane roads with a long barrier divider, impeding bicycling in the desired direction. Better design of streets, Complete Streets, should be the goal of every community. Many cities have also found “sharrows” to be very effective at reducing the incidence of wrong way bicycling.
Wrong way bicycling is extremely dangerous and offensive. Studies show that wrong-way cyclists are much more likely to get hit by cars. 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 idea is just 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.) So don’t. It ain’t worth it.