In response to Dr. Gridlock's Bike-to-Work Week blitz of articles and postings, he got some letters about biking. They're mostly negative (and the one positive one wasn't in the print edition).
The first was from a cyclist who says that knowing how to change a flat is not necessary for bike commuting.
I have contingency plans (well, ideas and experience) for what to do if my bike breaks down on my five-mile route between home and work in downtown Washington. For one thing, I'm always within 2.5 miles of one or the other, not a terrible distance to walk in a pinch.
Sometimes I've simply walked the bike to a convenient place, where I could lock it and fetch it later. At least twice I've hailed a taxi and put my bike in the trunk. I don't carry a cellphone, but that certainly helps under some scenarios, particularly riding home. I carry a pump in my backpack and have used it when there's a very slow leak to ride to a drop-off point or even make it to home or work.
It helps to know the nearest bike shop along my route, as well as Metro stops and parking garages with bike racks. The latter are especially important in case of lightning.
Most important, when my tires are getting bald, I replace them rather than trying to squeeze a few more months out of them. That has really cut down on flats; I can't remember the last time I had one.
I do know how to change a flat, but I have the same philosophy for repairs I can't do. Metro adding bike racks to the front of the bus is what finally got me to bike to work. I figured that if something bad happened, they could be my SAG wagon. I've used it maybe a half dozen times.
The second letter is about wrong-way cycling. I agree that it is almost always a bad idea, but I don't think it is actually one of the "most common" violations by cyclists. Still, cyclists should not ride the wrong way.
The third letter was from a 60 year old man who's been hit by cyclists three times in the last 18 months. On each occasion he was on the sidewalk in the CBD where sidewalk cycling is illegal. Adding insult to injury, the cyclists were reportedly unconcerned, and in two cases hostile. There's no excuse for that kind of behavior. It's the unholy trinity of illegal, unsafe and rude. Don't do that.
We could dump a bunch of letters on Dr. G about bad driver and bad pedestrian behavior, but I think that would do more harm than good.