Facing traffic while walking on a paved shoulder is good advice – but do we give the opposite advice to cyclists?

The OPP provided some good advice to the public when submitting the above photo on their Twitter account. In the immediate duration before a crash every additional second is extremely important and can be the difference between a pedestrian successfully avoiding an errant vehicle or facing  a possible deadly consequence. Facing traffic may give you that valuable additional second.

Despite this useful advice our society seems to provide the opposite advice for cyclists who face a similar jeopardy. Cyclists who may ride even closer to fast-speed traffic than pedestrians are forced to ride with their backs to that traffic. The danger has become so apparent in Toronto that cyclists have begun attaching horizontal pool noodles to the backs of their cycles as shown the photo below.

View of a cyclist riding with a pool noodle attached to the rear of his bicycle in an attempt to keep motor vehicles from striking him.

The pool noddle in an interesting safety strategy but is unproven.

Why is it so is important to give pedestrians that extra second or two of reaction time but that is not considered important for cyclists who face collisions of similar severity without any meaningful protection? This is a societal question that begs an answer from those who continue to place cyclists in this dangerous environment.