I hate stop signs. I loath the feeling of hitting a red light. And stopping completely to look both ways at the intersection of a bike trail and street crossing just plain sucks. But I do all three of these because it's the law. However, in the interest of full disclosure, I've been guilty of coasting at all three. This is a major point of contention between motorists and cyclists. And I believe only through mutual understanding and respect can we begin to see eye to eye.
I get it; you've found your sweet spot on the bike. That place where there's a perfect balance between speed and conservation of energy. You've established momentum and as you approach a pesky stop sign or red light, letting go of that momentum is not preferred. I, too, have coasted through a stop sign or taken the head start at a red light. I know you're tired. You've worked a long hard day, and that five o'clock commute is sucking the last of your energy reserves for the day.
I've got two words for you my two-wheeled friends: interval training. Beyonce does it, and so can you... on your bike... while you commute. Interval training is a type of workout that involves a series of high intensity bursts of activity with rest periods in between. For example, pedaling your heart out on a busy road and stopping completely for five to 20 seconds at a stop sign or light counts as interval training.
Not only does this type of workout increase cardiovascular strength, it is also believed to be more effective in the fat loss game. Ergo, if even one of your reasons for cycling is to keep your shape in check, then abiding by the rules of the road is one major way to do this. It may feel easier to keep that momentum going, but in the long run by stopping at lights and signs you get more of the exercise benefits you seek.
I hope you'll trust me when I say: I understand where you're coming from on this whole full stop issue. Unpredictable cyclists are scary, not only because they could get hurt but mostly because they could cause you to be the one to hurt them. If you read the above, then you know I tried to reason with my fellow cyclists using solid visual images (read: Beyonce) and appealing to their sense of logic.
But that doesn't mean everyone will listen. So I ask you, lovely drivers, to please be considerate of all cyclists regardless of your experience with the few who don't follow the rules. We do belong on the road. Impolite behavior and road rage only serves to make everyone, including yourself, less safe. Cut us some slack. After all, we don't have the luxury of air conditioning.