In the bike wars, I’m an innocent bystander. I have great respect for cyclists who bike for convenience, or health, but I’m most often behind the wheel of a car.

Several years ago, when Mayor Menino declared, “The car is no longer king,” he couldn’t have imagined the street battle sometimes characterized as the clash of the Lycra clad arrogant bikers versus the self-righteous drivers. Studies show drivers’ rage comes from the feeling that bikers “cheat” because they use the roads but don’t follow the same rules as cars. Cyclists are angry with drivers who disrespect them yelling taunts, throwing rubbish, and deliberately driving too close or through bike lanes.

I could chalk up both sides’ behavior to bad manners and privileged petulance, but this can be about life and death. Last December, Boston University student Christopher Weigl was killed; hit by a 16 wheeler at a busy intersection. I didn’t have a personal connection to Christopher, but I’m haunted by the death of my friend’s brother six years ago. It doesn’t matter that it didn’t happen here, and that, unlike Christopher, he was biking on a flat, nearly empty road.

I am now hyper-aware of the shared space, and overcompensate when bikers are near me. If behind them, I put significant distance between us, or if the rider is next to me, I pull way over.

Massachusetts is now ranked as the third safest state for bike riding in the Northeast. What’s more, bicycle/motor vehicle crashes nationwide have gone down.

That’s good news.

But the reality is, cars still outnumber bikes by a huge margin. And these days hundreds more bikers are on the road, encouraged by programs like Hubway, and by enthusiasm for non-polluting transportation.

There are real casualties in this war of sharp turns and sharp words. So there’s really no choice here both bikers and drivers have to share the road responsibly. Nobody’s life is worth a claim to the right of way.