I've been doing some reflecting recently and realized that I, growing up on a BMX bike and riding far distances everyday to session spots, never had a car vs. bicycle incident. We didn't obey traffic rules, had lights on our bikes, or had to blow a whistle. We didn't have the internet nor were we aware of any bicycle advocacy happening at that time. We didn't wear helmets, reflective clothing or any other "safety" clothing aside from shin guards to keep us from tearing up our shins. But I never, ever had a car entanglement.
When I started road cycling a few years ago, I took all the safety awareness lessons I've been reading about on the web and applied them. Coincidentally, this was the time I was hit by a car. And as recently as yesterday, while riding with my wife on a very wide road, we were hassled by a couple of douchebags who thought it'd be funny to buzz us and scream to scare us.
Usually, when I ride, I never experience these interactions with cars simply because I've re-adopted the way I used to ride when I was a kid. I do obey traffic rules, and I utilize and encourage safety gear like a helmet, reflective clothing and lighting (I'm all grown up now), but I stay WAY off main roads and avoid busy streets as much as possible. I cut through pathways, take dirt paths and residential streets, hop curbs, ride through parks, trails and other "workarounds". If I must absolutely be on a street, I choose super wide streets with large bike lanes or if there is no bike lane, I hop up the curb and ride on the sidewalk. In other words - I've adapted my riding style to survive an environment that is not bicycle friendly. This is exactly the way we used to ride our 20" bikes in the 80's and 90's - but we didn't do it for safety... we did it for fun.
I can't wait for the world to rebuild a bicycle friendly infrastructure, nor do I have the time to go to city council meetings. I don't agree with the way Critical Mass presents itself and I would never get involved with it. But, I do have a BMX background, and I do know how to get in and out of ride in stealth mode.
Next time you route your ride or if you have a daily commute - consider your options. Get comfortable with riding off road, getting up and off curbs without falling and seeing opportunistic alternative cut-throughs in your town. You don't have to subject yourself to becoming a sitting duck out there while bicycle advocacy groups try to change the world.
Hey, if Cru Jones can do it...