On the Stanford University’s News Website is an article on bicycle safety, which begins with the statement:
Nearly 100 collisions between bicycles and vehicles were reported on campus between 2003 and 2007.
Within this opening line lies a large part of the problem. Bicycles are vehicles and until people grasp that concept, there will always be an obstacle to improving safety on public roads. "Cycling in traffic" is another common phrase. The statement is obsolete, bicycles are part of traffic.
Only when drivers of motor vehicles see a bicycle as just another vehicle on the road, another person simply trying to get from point A to point B by a different means of transport, will attitudes have a chance of changing.
By the same rule, people who ride bicycles need to see themselves in the same light and behave accordingly. How many times do I see a person on a bicycle (POB.) at an intersection, waiting at the extreme edge of the road when they intend to go straight? Then they wonder why they get “Hooked.”
Bicycles on sidewalks are another problem. Bicycles are a vehicle and belong on the road, sidewalks are for foot traffic. That’s why they are called sidewalks. They are supposed to be a safe haven for pedestrians. A place where there are no vehicles.
If everyone viewed the bicycle as a vehicle and behaved accordingly, there would be no need for separate bike lanes and other special accommodations.
When a person decides to commute to work on a bike, or even just ride as a form of exercise, most of these people have already driven a car and know the rules of the road.
The only difference is, on a bicycle you can’t afford to be a sloppy driver. You have to drive defensively, the way we are all supposed to drive our cars.