No group of people is perfect, and that certainly includes cyclists. But I am troubled by the depiction of cyclists as a huge problem, even when people acknowledge that not everyone rides dangerously. Let's put the problems in perspective. When you are crossing the street on foot and a cyclist passes by too quickly, perhaps illegally, it is annoying and scary. We should solve this problem with better facilities and training and enforcement. But let's not lose sight of the fact that danger from cars is hundreds of times greater. We don't notice that because it has been present (and therefore normal) for a long time. But it's not very rational to discount the bigger danger merely because we're accustomed to it.
Please read this piece from Salon. It expresses how I feel pretty well. I hadn't even thought of why the current facilities encourage us to break laws. It's not just the facilities, it's the general chaotic nature of New York traffic. We have to adapt minute by minute and second by second. Survival and courtesy sometimes require law breaking. There are orderly and considerate ways to travel, and I do my best to use them. I try not to make anyone nervous with my maneuvers. This means I have a higher standard for myself than the law.
Link to Salon piece