By Elly Blue (full article in Grist Magazine)
So when do I get yelled at, if not for stop sign violations? Another part of riding predictably and safely means “taking the lane” — riding right down the middle whenever possible, and merging right to let faster traffic pass whenever that is safe and necessary. But that’s when I get yelled at and swerved around. That is when I get lectured while stopped at a stoplight about “all you” cyclists or sworn at and told to get on the sidewalk.
It’s understandable — these drivers have learned to expect cyclists to ride unsafely, hugging the line of parked cars, in danger of being “doored” whenever not swerving unpredictably to the right at intersections. Or they expect us to be on the sidewalk — the least safe place you can possibly ride a bike, and in many places illegal.
That’s right — despite my crimes (well, technically they’re misdemeanors), I only seem to cause a PR problem for cycling when I am behaving with perfect, obnoxious compliance with both the letter and the spirit of the law.
Yet there’s a persistent meme out there, spread by bike advocates and bike haters alike, that we two-wheeled travelers need to earn our right to the road by absolute adherence to stop sign laws. This is smoke and mirrors. What we really need are streets that bring out the best in us — streets that are slow and safe enough that we can intelligently negotiate our interactions in traffic with each other.