Lets say I am wainting on the road for my friend to pick me up. He calls me and asks me which side of the road I am on. Now, I can't say left or right since I don't know which direction he is coming from, so I want to tell him with respect to the direction of the traffic on that side of the road I am standing.

Can I say

I am on the side where traffic goes in the direction of X.

While the sentence above is grammatical, is construction feel a a bit awkward to me. Can anyone suggest a better construction for the expression above?

  • 1
    How about phrases like, "I'm at Wendy's", "I'm on the same side as Hilton", etc. Apr 8, 2015 at 16:23
  • 4
    Or I'm on the south (north, east, west) side of the road. Apr 8, 2015 at 18:08
  • Or northbound, &c, especially if you're in an area with winding roads. Not far from me there's a stretch of road that is signed as both Hwy 49 south and 89 north :-)
    – jamesqf
    Apr 8, 2015 at 18:33
  • This isn't necessarily a better "construction," but it could be helpful in a pinch: I'm on the side of the road with even-numbered (or odd-numbered) buildings.
    – J.R.
    Apr 8, 2015 at 19:50
  • 2
    @jamesqf - lol - If the road doesn't have any buildings, then there's a good chance it wouldn't matter which side of the road your on – you'd be readily visible on either side. :-)
    – J.R.
    Apr 8, 2015 at 23:46

2 Answers 2


You can refer to traffic flowing in a particular cardinal direction with the suffix -bound:

  • I am standing on the westbound side of Beacon Street at Mass Ave.
  • An accident has blocked three lanes of the southbound Santa Ana Freeway

It is far less common to use -bound with intermediate directions, but it's also unnecessary. If you're standing on the northeast-bound side of a road that runs northeast-to-southwest, you could equally accurately describe yourself as standing on the northbound or the eastbound side. Most roads tend to run more of one way than the other, anyway.

In some cases, one can also refer to inbound and outbound traffic, where inbound is toward a CBD or other central place. I can't bear the traffic on inbound I-66 in the mornings, but the crowding on the inbound Orange Line is even worse. But obviously, this does not work for travel perpendicular to the inbound-outbound spoke, nor does everyone necessarily agree on what is considered in or out.

Similarly, I sometimes use -bound to indicate in the direction of a specific place, but what is acceptable is idiosyncratic— I can stand on the Virginia-bound side of the Key Bridge in Washington, but to say the Arlington-bound side would be weird, even though it is more accurate. On the other hand, saying you're on the Manhattan-bound side of the Brooklyn Bridge is fine.

With trains and buses, -bound is used in some places to indicate direction as well. This is the Brooklyn-bound C Train, making all local stops; Train 67, the Boston-bound Northeast Regional, is arriving on Track 16; Attention customers: an outbound train, from the Loop, will be arriving shortly. But -bound is not itself necessary when travel is only possible in one direction from a particular platform. I'm at Dupont Circle, standing on the Shady Grove side.

Naturally, which side any of the above refers to will differ based on the rule of the road in the area. In my first example, since people drive on the right in Boston, the speaker is standing on the north side of the street. Were it in Bermuda, it would be on the south.

  • What would be opposite of bound in your example? for e.g. if we refer to traffic going towards X point as X bound traffic like Manhattan bound traffic, what would be term for traffic coming from that particular point?
    – Max
    Apr 10, 2015 at 8:27
  • @Dude That traffic would be outbound from that point, or you would need to identify an alternative destination: New Jersey-bound Lincoln Tunnel traffic or the Bronx-bound 6 Train.
    – choster
    Apr 10, 2015 at 14:56

I was pretty confident that you are from India. And, I confirmed it looking at your profile!

To others, India does not have bounds, south/west/etc... directions or anything that a foreigner from the first world countries can think of! Natives may consider this is a great tip if you are visiting India, ever! :)

So dude, if you use all these 'classic' ways to tell your friend your position, he'll at least take half an hour to understand what you said! In India, what exactly works in directing someone is telling the name of something famous that is nearby to you. If you don't have any landmark, supermarket or anything nearby, your wordings absolutely make sense in India.

Though I'm not from Bangalore (nor am I quite acquainted with the city), I'll try explaining it looking at Bangalore's Map -suppose you are on the MG Road, then you may direct someone like...

I'm standing on the left side of the MG road. On this road, all the traffic is going to Brigade Circle.

The opposite direction will be...

I'm standing on the left side of the MG road. On this road, all the traffic is going to Trinity.

In a dense city like Bangalore, it's very rare that you don't find any building/landmark. You may simply tell someone that you are near Kerala State Handicraft Emporium (real example!).

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