John S. Allen writes:
“Milvia Street in Berkeley, California is a residential street which runs parallel to Shattuck Avenue, a heavily traveled arterial with narrow lanes. Milvia Street is used as a “bicycle boulevard” — a two-way through route for cyclists on which motor traffic volume and speed are reduced by various measures. The contraflow installation on one block of Milvia Street is one of these measures. Like many German contraflow installations, the Milvia Street installation does not use a bike lane [emphasis added].”
Allen notes than while it “has been shown again and again that riding opposite the flow of traffic is hazardous…an important distinction needs to be made between two types of contraflow installations”:
“wrong way” contraflow — a two-way bike lane assemblage or two-way sidepath on one side of a street;
“right way” contraflow — a street on which the normal rules of the road apply, but only bicycles are permitted to travel in one of the two directions.
“Right-way contraflow installations are a reasonable idea”, says Allen, “if carefully designed and located. They can clearly improve the convenience of bicycle travel….[T]hey also can reduce the risk of crashes by shortening trips and by providing a route that avoids trouble spots.”
GERMANY: Contraflow Without Special Lanes
In Bremen, Saarbrücken and a few other cities, the one-way streets with contraflow bicycle traffic have already proven themselves. Despite all misgivings, there have been no crashes resulting from the streets’ being open to contraflow bicycle traffic. The results in the test phase, which lasted more than three years, were positive, and so the change in the traffic law was made permanent as of the beginning of the year 2001.