After many years on a bicycle, most riders develop a sort of sixth sense that enables them to anticipate the actions of motorists based upon their lane position, speed, smoothness (or lack thereof), etc. Sharing the road with motorists will eventually develop this essential skill in most any bicyclist.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear the same can be said about motorists. It often seems as if motorists are completely perplexed by bicyclists who obey the rules of the road, take the lane when necessary, and generally act as if they have a right to be on the road just like any other vehicle. It often seems as if motorists expect us bicyclists to ride erratically and outside the normal conventions expected of vehicle operators.
A pair of examples (among many others) include a motorist waving a bicyclist through at a 4-way stop when the motorist clearly has the right-of-way; and, a motorist slowing to let a bicyclist make a left turn when the motorist has the right-of-way from the opposite direction. These unorthodox interactions are confusing and potentially dangerous.
Perhaps at least some of the blame for this lies in the fact that we bicyclists do, in fact, sometimes ride as if the rules of the road don’t apply to us. In other words, if motorists are accustomed to seeing bicyclists riding erratically, perhaps they’re only reacting accordingly by being hesitant in their interactions with us.
It would sure be nice if all motorists treated bicyclists as equal road users and responded to us in ways that are normal for the circumstances at hand. In the meantime, the best thing we can do is keep abiding the rules of the road and sending clear messages about our intentions to other road users.