The Spokes Man is a series with Slate’s Henry Grabar assessing the dilemmas of the urban biker.
Riding a bike in a city is like modern art, or formal dress. You have to know the rules before you can break them. One of those rules is that you can’t ride against traffic. It makes drivers crazy, scares pedestrians, and antagonizes or even endangers your fellow bikers. But can it ever be OK?
Well: yes. Sometimes. To understand why, you have to understand how city streets were built—and the reality of biking on them, as explained in this video.
As always, use your own judgment about what’s safe when you’re biking.