I am getting a little lost here. I will attempt to keep my comments on individual topics brief; but hopefully they will maintain their meaning and clarity. I think part of the confusion is due to the following:
- I see cycling inferiority used in the context of an irrational fear of getting struck from behind ... irrational since their is a greater likelihood of getting struck in other situations.
- I also see cycling inferiority used in the context of a right to be on the road with autos.
From John's article, I understand the underlying link between the two and why the phrase is used in both contexts. In a practical sense, however, I think that it is a mistake to combine the two ideas. In large, I feel this way for two reasons:
- The underlying link is somewhat abstract and not universal among cyclists ... the typical participants in the discussion.
- One can address its symptoms without getting into a conversation about cycling inferiority phobias, complexes, etc., and the overhead that comes with it.
That written, at least when it comes to severe accidents, I agree that intersections of sorts are where the real danger lies for cyclists. Although I wonder whether accident statistics are confounded with ...
- selection problems where the most skilled riders are willing to ride the most dangerous areas and so forth.
- measurement problems with reporting.
- selection problems regarding where bicycle facilities are located; for instance, bike lanes being placed in the most dangerous areas.
At least in my mind, there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding the magnitude of effects and the nuances that can become relevant in particular situations. But I gather that traffic theory and basic statistics support the notion that intersections are where the most difficult decisions are made and where people are exposed to the greatest risk. If it is the case that safety is the primary motivation for facilities and the world is static, then I can see why there are strong feelings and skepticism against naive bike lanes.
I believe that bike lanes make navigating with autos easier for cyclists since the negotiation for space is already delineated for normal situations. Given that there are a lot of motorists with little experience or respect for cyclists, the bike lane asserts the right to the cyclists' presence on the road. Consequently, I get the sense that motorists behave accordingly. I also get the sense that over time, if the facilities are used, motorists update their expectations and begin to look for cyclists in their prescribed locations. I think expecting motorists and cyclists to act in a particular way--remember that anyone can ride a bicycle (no license required) and just about any joker can get a motor vehicle license--with little or no guidance is unrealistic.
In other words, I think that there are rational reasons for people to want bike lanes that address practical issues directly and omit a fear from being hit from behind. I should point out that John and others here have pointed out valid problems with some bike lanes which should be addressed on a case-by-case basis since the cost/benefit anaylsis is likely to change with local conditions. More generally, I like to see sharrows with WOLs since they incorporate a lot of the negotiation advantages described above without trapping cyclists into a tiny spot on a road.
Well ... I am running out of time; but have too much to write.
I think the "what is your qualifications?" argument is just a red herring. If you believe the argument is without merit, then just state your reasons. If you are a "qualified person of the field", then just write so and state that John is mis-using the term as it is commonly used in the field. In my opinion, that approach will be more convincing to a layperson such as myself. Furthermore, I think that we are over valuing a degree or "official" experience. For instance, I certainly hope that I don't have to be a traffic engineer (and have a degree in it) to make comments about cycling safety.