The intent of this post is to start a discussion on the topic of vehicular cycling (VC), what it is, how it relates to making cycling safer and traffic cycling more fun, how it forms the basis for why cyclists should opposes bike lanes, where you can learn more about it, etc.
I'll start with a brief introduction.
VC stands for Vehicular Cycling.
Vehicular Cycling is cycling in accordance to the principle that "cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles" (coined by John Forester)
Some people when they first are introduced to the principle (and some for many years later), make the mistake of thinking the principle means that cyclists "are the same as cars". It doesn't. The principle is simply based on the recognition that cyclists have a choice - to ride in accordance to the vehicular rules of the road, or not, and that if they do, they are more likely to "fare well" than if they don't. "Fare well" in this case generally means getting from A to B reasonably safely and in a reasonable time.
Now you may be able to get there faster (by running red lights, not riding to be visible and predictable, etc.), but that's at a higher risk of getting involved in a collisions, which is generally understood NOT to be faring well.
Similarly, you can also ride at ped speeds on sidewalks and walk your bike across cross walks, but that also generally means not faring very well since it would take so long to get from A to B.
The idea is that a cyclist will generally not "fare as well" if he rides according to any other sets of rules other than vehicular rules. The basic reason for this is that everyone else is used to everyone else operating under vehicular rules, and that if you operate under them too, the others will know how to safely interact with you.
Note that "operating under vehicular rules" does not necessarily mean going as fast as other vehicles. Just because the speed limit is 55 doesn't mean you have to operate at 55 mph to be "vehicular". After all, a basic vehicular rule is "slower drivers keep to the right".
This is just the tip of the iceberg on this topic. One can actually write a book on the topic, and luckily a few people already have (arguablly, the posts I've made on this topic on this forum could comprise a book in themselves!). The "bible" of VC is the book Effective Cycling (EC) by John Forester. Actually, the 600pp covers a lot more than VC, much of it kind of dated and some of it pretty strange. But even critics of John Forester's style and some of his positions (like being against bike lanes) like Jeffrey Hiles, who wrote the essay "Listening to Bike Lanes", acknowledges that "The 85-page section of Effective Cycling that describes riding technique is arguably one of the most lucid and thorough guides to cycling in traffic in print." Any cyclist should read at least that part of the book for that reason alone. You should know that the other publications that cover VC very well are the book Cyclecraft by John Franklin (though he writes with a left-bias since he's British), and the pamphlet Street Smarts by John S. Allen, which you can find on the internet and download.
If you take a cycling safety class (called "Road 1") from the League of American Bicyclists (http://www.bikeleague.org), they will teach you techniques in accordance with the VC principle, as well as other material that essentially comes from Effective Cycling.
I invite others to post further information about, or questions of, vehicular cycling in this thread.