[The following is really good, which I quote in full (without hyper links) but for those who are more then the casual reader I will encourage you to visit the original article (link at the end of this article) on the WashCycle site and follow the comments on the article.]
Whenever you read an article about cycling in the city, or a discussion of transportation involving cycling it is highly likely that you'll read a comment like this:
"I will 'share the road' when cyclists start 'obeying the traffic laws.'"
"I always see bikers disobeying traffic signals. They always run red lights going across R Street and Connecticut Ave"
Before encouraging people to cycle and spending millions of pounds of our money in the process, the Government should have down some groundwork to make roads safer for all of us. [WC: Sounds reasonable]
Making cyclists observe a few traffic laws - such as stopping at traffic lights and zebra crossings - would have been a welcome start.[WC: Really? You'd START with cyclists?]
In fact after Alice Swanson's death, many comments on the post, DCist and elsewhere mentioned that something like this was bound to happen because of the illegal manner in which most cyclists ride. Despite the fact that there seems to be no indication that she did anything illegal.
Which leads to what I call "The Myth of the Scofflaw Cyclist".
Now then, I'm not trying to claim that cyclists don't break the law. Let me state clearly and upfront, they do. What I'm saying is that there is nothing unique about the frequency with which cyclists as a class break the law when compared with drivers or pedestrians. And even if cyclists broke the law more flagrantly, that would not negate the need to share the road.
Hello? Kettle? You're Black!
Implicit in all of these types of comments is that drivers (and sometimes pedestrians) constitute the law-abiding sections of society, but these scofflaw cyclists - with their Lycra-clad arrogance (you have to mention arrogance or self-righteousness for it to count) - are a menace to society.
Let's knock that down first.
Many drivers break the law. I would almost be willing to say that every driver breaks the law, but let's stick with many. How?
First of all, they speed.
Driver compliance with speed limits is poor. On average, 7 out of 10 motorists exceeded the posted speed in urban areas. Compliance ranged from 3 to 99 percent. Compliance tended to be worse on low-speed roads, better on roads with prima facie limits, or where the speed limit was based on an engineering study. Better does not mean good compliance; less than 10 percent on [sic] the sites had more than 50-percent obedience with the posted speed
In DC, speed cameras were set up at several locations. They were recording 170 infractions per hour (that's one every 21 seconds for all you poli-sci majors).
And they run red lights
From August 1999 through May 2008, the automated red-light enforcement program has, at 49 locations, resulted in 741,780 notices of infraction.
And stop signs
The overall compliance rate for stop signs was 22.8 per 100 vehicles, ranging from 1.4 per 100 for bicycles to 46.2 per 100 for commuter vans. Compliance increased to 53 per 100 vehicles when pedestrians were present in the crosswalk. [WC: Ok we're both guilty here, but the cars aren't even stopping half the time. More on this below.]
They illegally park
There were 1.67 million parking tickets written last year, up from 1.3 million in 2001, according to statistics provided by the D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW).
They double park and park in the bike lane.
They ignore toll booths
Court records show that among the first cases in Fairfax County last week, five motorists each had fines topping $10,000. A dozen more face penalties higher than $4,000.
They drive drunk and distracted, this being a mere drop in the bucket.
Through October, officers issued 9,484 tickets this year to motorists driving with a cell phone in their hand, according to police statistics.
The number of citations already issued this year is 13 percent more than the 8,358 issued last year. In 2005, police issued 7,523...
and I could go on.
Pedestrians, of course, jaywalk.
My point isn't that two wrongs make a right or that drivers are worse than cyclists. My point is that it's hypocritical to call your neighbor rude, because his loud stereo makes it difficult for you to focus on your backyard chainsaw sculpting.