The cyclist versus driver debate is not often driven by reason or even factual evidence; instead, it is often dictated by irrational and baseless arguments. For instance, the July 20 letter "4-Foot Impossibility" not only falsely claims that a car can't pass a cyclist safely giving 4 feet, which it legally can by crossing the center line when safe to do so, but it also falsely assumes that cyclists don't pay taxes for the roads or a fuel tax. This is a completely false assumption given that many cyclists pay property tax and many cyclists also own automobiles, thus paying a fuel tax. I'm fine with people expressing their opinion in this debate as long as it is fact-checked and accurate.
The biggest problem with feeding into the side of this debate driven by misinformation is that the primary danger faced by a cyclist when on the road is a misinformed or reckless driver. Studies have shown that one of the best and easiest ways to protect cyclists from unnecessary harm is through concentrated and effective PR campaigns that highlight safe driving and cycling practices. This is because the vast majority of drivers do not understand what it is like to bike in traffic.
Given that the Pittsburgh area has almost daily incidents between drivers and cyclists, it would seem appropriate for us all, including media outlets, to focus our efforts on a better understanding of traffic safety for all rather than feeding into an unrealistic and manufactured debate.