The historic American policy regarding cycling has always been one of incompetent cycling through deliberate ignorance, administered through fear of same-direction motor traffic. I deliberately say deliberate, because America has always chosen cyclist-inferiority education instead of vehicular cycling education whenever the choice was open to it. And now, of course, that policy has morphed into one of incompetent cycling on bikeways.
We few vehicular cyclists have held to a second policy, that of following the rules for drivers of vehicles, which has been written up in several books.
So far as I know, nobody has written books about incompetent cycling or about bikeway cycling; the skills for these actions are just supposed to be natural, instruction unnecessary. But for the last four years vehicular cycling has had a different challenger in the form of Robert Hurst's Art of Cycling. Hurst accepts typical lawless cycling, and justifies it by arguing that motor traffic is also lawless (except for its own mysterious laws, whatever these may be). However, Hurst raises lawless cycling to a high performance art by applying super competence to it. So he says, but, like other descriptions of art, without being able to specifically describe it.
I have produced a detailed evaluation of Hurst's arguments and posted it to my website, johnforester.com. The following items are the introduction that I wrote for my page on cycling sociology, and the URL for the evaluation follows.
Traffic Cycling: No Rules, No Laws, Just Perfect Performance Art?
Vehicular cycling is following the traffic rules. Typical American cycling is disorganized lawlessness because its cyclists believe that the laws don't apply to them and, as cyclists, they are not very competent. Robert Hurst, a former bicycle messenger, in The Art of Cycling, denigrates motorists by saying that they don't obey the traffic laws and vehicular cyclists by arguing that they think they do. Instead, Hurst takes typical American lawless cycling to the utmost level by advocating super-competent lawlessness as much better than vehicular cycling in the real, chaotic traffic world. "A successful, safe ride through American traffic is not an exercise in rule following , but a beautiful piece of performance art."