My cycling priorities
Here are my priorities as a cyclist:
1. Stay safe.
2. Be courteous.
3. Obey the law.
4. Get where I’m going.
I think 3 and 4 sometimes switch places.
I will try to be courteous to drivers, unless doing so makes me unsafe. This means that at intersections where drivers are likely to turn right, I will pull out and take the lane when possible, even if it slows you down. I don’t mean to be rude, but I’ve had drivers right hook me too many times (no actually collisions yet, thanks be to God).
Sometimes being safe and being courteous means riding through a red light to get out of the way, or to avoid putting myself in a dangerous situation on the other side of the light. I will do this on occasion, but only if absolutely nobody is coming the other way.
Getting where I’m going in a timely manner and obeying traffic laws are important to me, but not as important as the other two. I will not ride in a manner that disrespects or frightens other people, just to get where I’m going.
I haven’t yet figured out my priorities between obeying the law and getting where I’m going. I will sometimes run red lights in empty intersections, but I always look first. I do think it’s important for cyclists to take their responsibilities on the road seriously, as part of claiming our place as a normal part of traffic. My actions and values are sometimes at odds, it seems. Does anyone else wrestle with this dilemma? How do you address it?
Postscript: I will also almost never ride on a sidewalk, because that’s (ironically) an easy way to get run over by cars, who may be pulling out of driveways or parking lots. It also frequently violates the courtesy rule with respect to pedestrians, who always have the right of way.