I know that it's lazy to knock down anything but the best counter-arguments to your beliefs, and so at first glance this letter to the editor calling cyclists the "worst" might not fit the bill. But sadly, as weak as it is, I think this is the strongest argument out there being made that "cyclists are the worst", an argument made difficult by the fact that it's clearly not true.
The author of the letter said that he was "incensed" by an earlier letter published in the Post. That letter from a cyclist described a crash that he was involved with because a driver violated his right-of-way. Even the driver accepted that he was at fault. The cyclist then asked that drivers follow the rules so that everyone can make it where they're going without dying. Seems pretty innocuous, and not like something to get incensed about, but that's what happened.
Before anyone cautions automobile drivers about bicycle safety, they should examine the habits of bicycle riders.
I'm not sure these things need to be done in series and if they were, I think the relative danger that cars present to everyone would put them first in the queue. The author then describes two close calls between her husband and a cyclist.
One came out from between two buses to cross the street in the middle of four lanes of traffic as we approached from the opposite direction.
It's not a very good description, but it's not clear that the cyclist did anything that was illegal.
The other, who was in the road, following the rules of vehicular traffic, came to a red light at a four-way intersection and decided to cross on the pedestrian crosswalk, thereby following the rules of pedestrian traffic. We were making a right turn on red after stopping but nearly hit the bicyclist.
Again, there's some information missing, but it seems like the only person who nearly broke the law was the husband who almost didn't yield the right-of-way. And that's it. It's not a particularly compelling case that cyclists are the worst.
I’m just amazed the fatality rate is not higher.
It takes a lot of near misses to raise the fatality rate.
Bicyclists are the worst offenders because no one can anticipate what they’re going to do,
And yet, the crash rate for adult cyclists is likely lower than for drivers (A 1975 study for cyclists put the crash rate at 114 per million VMT on major roads*, lower for other facilities; for drivers it's at 223 [Figure 2-7]).
And of course a recent study showed that drivers break the law more often than cyclists do. Another that cyclists usually break the law in the interest of safety, but that drivers break it to save time.
and if there’s an accident, guess who’s going to be held responsible?
Likely not the driver, especially if they get "lucky" and kill the cyclist - drivers are less often found at fault when the cyclist isn't around to tell their side of the story. If they drive away, odds are they won't get caught. And if they stay, odds are very high that either they won't be at fault, won't be found at fault even thought they are, or won't get anything worse than a traffic ticket or a misdemeanor.
With staggering repetition, motorists who kill cyclists with obvious negligence—manic speeders, drivers who are shown to be using their phones during or right before a crash, people who willfully leave someone to die on the side of the road—often slither through the judicial system with seemingly ridiculous charges and convictions.
If the cyclist lives, they have a good chance of not being found liable thanks to car friendly negligence laws (in MD and VA) and police bias.
By no measure - danger, lawlessness, congestion inducing, pollution causing or rudeness - can one credibly claim that cyclists are the worst. There is only one king of that mountain - Autosaurus Rex.
*Crash rates per million miles on major streets = 114, minor roads = 105, on-road bike routes or lanes = 58, and off-road = 292