Beyond the matter of setting a poor example, these bicyclists stand out in the minds of tax-paying drivers. As an avid cyclist, these people piss me off because their behavior hurts the chances of me getting a bike lane, the chances having traffic laws changed to favor law-abiding cyclists like myself, and in general it reduces motorists' respect for me—which can result in mortal danger. Cyclists have such little respect in the public mind as it is; it can't stand to be hurt further.

A few points for Lia:

Yes, any activity is done at your own risk. But the particular activity which you're describing is dangerous for other people. As you've said, you have hit pedestrians while riding the wrong way. Yes, maybe it was only one, but someone still got hit. (Oops, so it was a car and not a ped you hit. Still, it could easily have been, and such may very well happen if you continue. Also, you are likely to cause a motorist to swerve and hit another at high speed—which could cause injury or death. It's a fun game you're playing here, with people's lives—not just your own.) And blaming them for not looking both ways at a one way street is absurd. Yes, they definitely should have looked, but you were the one engaging in illegal behavior. More important than the legality of it, though, is that it goes against the expected flow of traffic. Traffic rules are there to keep things from crashing into each other, and the usual cause of a crash on the road is when stupid people disobey the rules in favor of convenience. Why should you travel out of your way? To avoid hurting people!

Public policy changes (often slowly) in response to changes in public opinion. When the public at large, who are, unfortunately, mostly drivers, sees bicyclists as crazy idiots who drive the wrong way down the street, they're not going to support changes in public policy that support bicycles. This includes allowing passing on the right (which is done anyways but should be legal for bikes), construction of bike paths and bike lanes, and so on. And you may not think you need paths and lanes, but you know what? A lot of people do. And when bike lanes and bike paths come up everywhere, people start riding.

I know this; I have seen it happening in Portland. When people start riding, people start seeing bikes. I know this sounds crazy, but some drivers in Portland actually drive as if bikes exist! This is quite contrary to my experience in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, where a cyclist might as well be a cockroach. You know what the difference is? Bike paths and lanes. I can count on one hand (and not in binary) the number of bike lanes and paths I am aware of there. But Portland? Given a minute, I could name 25 different ones, and that would just be scratching the surface. And then, compare it to Amsterdam, chock full of bike lanes, where bikes are traffic, and motorists know it.

One cyclist obeying the laws for a week isn't going to change public opinion. One thousand obeying the laws for one year, however, will do a lot.

Yes, you have a right to a lane of traffic, as do I. The laws where I live say to right as far to the right as possible. When the lanes are narrow or there are obstacles in the way, you are allowed to take a lane. These laws make sense, and I follow them—for that reason. I am law-abiding (abide: "To endure; to sustain; to submit to.") to the extent that is endurable and reasonable. Am I guilty of lane splitting? Yes. Running a stop sign? On occasion, actually, yes. When you slow down to 2 MPH at a stop sign on a bike, it's much better than a California Stop, which itself is widely accepted. These are common, relatively safe, and expected practices, for both bikes and cars, unlike going the wrong way down the street.

I too obey the laws of common sense. And common sense tells me that it's just plain old dumb to go the wrong way down a one-way street!