A recent article in Commentary magazine questioned the current elevated status of bicycles and bicycle riders in urban areas. This questioning was carried throughout the Internet because it does reflect a deep and growing concern about bicycles and their use in public space.
The general complaint is that bicycles ignore traffic rules and in clusters, bicyclists act like bullies.
I personally see two particular problems related to bicycling use in urban areas.
The first is that we have bad laws regarding bicycles. Bicyclists consider themselves to be improved versions or extensions of pedestrians. Therefore they should be allowed to use sidewalks and behave like pedestrians when traffic is light. Our laws do not reflect that. In others cities that are more genteel such as Copenhagen the laws do reflect that reality more accurately.
Secondly, the political forces supporting bicycles and the associated environmental hysteria that argues that bicycles are more than transportation they are a morally superior creation, have created a malicious hierarchy. Bicycles are now on the top of a moral pyramid.
This superior-to-thou political force ignores the fact that bicycles are inadequate for carrying groceries or other frequent purchases. That they are inadequate for ordinary Americans in inclement weather. And most importantly they are completely irrelevant to the large part of our population that has slight physical disabilities. They can never be a significant form of transportation for our many seniors who cannot risk falling from a bicycle.
It is in both of these regards the time has come to temper our attitudes and worship of bicycles and bicyclists.
(The photo suggests the level of political hysteria. These are rental bikes for short term walking distances. The City of San Francisco has dozens of such locations. Relevant only to people in good weather, dressed casually and fairly young.)