A reader writes:
Wilkinson seems to assume that the only people on the street are in cars or on bikes. The traffic rules he objects to are also there to protect pedestrians. I live in Manhattan and do most of my daily traveling on foot. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell few bikers obey the stop-signs, traffic lights and one-way signs. I have seen many more bike-pedestrian accidents than car-pedestrian ones. Consequently, I think that bikes are less, not more, compatible than with the greenest mode of transportation -- feet.
I hope you are willing to apply your conservative sense of personal responsibility to cyclists flagrantly ignoring the rules of the road. In Los Angeles I see cyclists flying through stop signs, creeping through red lights, weaving in and out of pedestrians on sidewalks, cycling against traffic without lights (I almost hit one myself in my car the other night), etc etc. Now, while I don't think they deserve to die for cycling in that way, they shouldn't be surprised if they do. And I hope that you agree that they should have no grounds to prosecute any driver who has the misfortune of knocking them down as a result of their abandon.
Cyclists often seem to want to have it both ways: to ignore rules of the road, but then also to complain that cars don't give them no respect. It seems obvious that the rules of the road are a common language that in the end ensure the greatest safety for the greatest number of people.