This weekend the New York Times had an extensive article on the latest news from the front in the War Between Cyclists and Motorists. As the article notes, US motorists are simply unused to seeing cyclists and adding them to the traffic mix is going to lead to trouble until they become part of the normal scene. I am not sure if this situation will improve as the kinds of motorists referred to see the cyclists but behave in inappropriate ways towards them, even to the extent of criminal actions such as assault. Looking back again to my recent experience in Europe, I found that motorists in France were careful and courteous but the cyclists I saw were also riding responsibly. Riding in the Alps requires some skill and while this would not be expected from newcomers to cycling common sense, such as looking before moving into the road or not riding over pedestrians, should be exercised.
If I were riding regularly in the United States, I would be particularly concerned by the statement that cyclists lose two out of three court cases as juries are inherently hostile to them. The system that the Netherlands (and some other European countries, but I am not sure which) uses whereby a motorist is always deemed to be at fault unless otherwise proven seems to be much more logicial considering the potential for injury. A cyclist running a red light is a danger to him- or herself and an inconvenience to a motorist but the main argument motorists mention against cyclists in the article is that they delay traffic. Is this all going to get uglier in North America before it gets better?