154825dilh_wThere have been several letters to the editor of the local newspaper regarding bicyclists obeying traffic laws.

As an urban bicyclist, I have mixed feelings. I want to obey laws. I want to be seen obeying the laws, especially by children. And I want to win more respect from automobile drivers for bicyclists.

On the other hand, if I consider true safety first, the laws aren’t protecting me. Roads are built for cars, with rare and unprotected bike lanes. Automobile drivers are talking on the phone, kidding themselves about paying proper attention to the traffic. Sidewalks are legally off limits to bikes.

Sometimes, truly, it is safer to cross a street against the traffic signal, if there is no cross traffic and the same-way traffic is being held by the light. And it is almost always preferable to ride on the sidewalks (on Broad Street, for example), dismounting when encountering the occasional pedestrian.

In this, as in most debates, extreme arguments are not our friends. Here is some evidence from the streets of New York, where I once saw a bike messenger fly through 57th and Fifth Avenue, against all traffic, claiming license to do so by shouting “No brakes! No brakes!”

It’s hard enough to focus on the bikes in front of the camera, without squinting in fear. Remember: the camera is mounted on a rider, too!