This probably belongs more properly in A&S, but the people here tend to be more balanced, so here it is:
Like a few other areas, Seattle has experienced a pretty noticable increase in the numbers of bicyclists lately. There are a lot more bikes on the roads than there used to be, and local governments have been pretty enthusiastic about integrating bicycles into their transportation plans, mostly as a way to reduce congestion and emissions. Civic leaders have been taking a hard look at what has been done in Portland, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Our one major MUP is being slowly expanded, and several miles of new bike lanes have already been added, and many more are planned. All of which are good things, IMO. At the same time, I've recently begun to notice a palpable increase in hostility towards bicyclists by the non-cycling public. During the last ten days alone, I've had several people, pedestrians and motorists, yell anti-bicycle insults at me for no other reason than the fact that I was riding a bike on the street, and I'm a pretty cautious, law-abiding rider; I'm not a Critical Mass type by any stretch of the imagination. I know a few members of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, and they're quite proud of the fact that they were able to partially block the creation of a bike lane on Stone Way, and are openly discussing attempts to have the bike lane that was created removed again. This weekend, a car-driving good friend of mine complained about bike lanes, and about bicylists in general, and his level of hostility was kind of shocking; he used to be fairly tolerant of bicyclists, but now that there are a lot more of them, and some arterials have been narrowed from four lanes to two to accommodate bike lanes, he's incensed, and has vowed to vote against bicycle-friendly politicians from now on. He's particularly infuriated by cyclists who take the lane; he sees this as evidence that cylists are "full of themselves," and that they're engaging in some passive-aggressive tactic designed to slow motorists' progress.
Of course, I'm not at all in agreement with anyone who shouts epithets at cyclists, lobbies to block bike lanes just because they think they can, or who is totally pissed off just because he has to maneuver around a cyclist on surface streets once in a while. I am concerned, though, that there appears to be an increasing public level of frustration with cyclists as a result of there being more of them. The message I get from my non-cycling acquaintances is that they think bicylists are a selfish, self-involved, somewhat silly interest group, a bunch of enthusiasts who are willing to spend a lot of public money to establish an infrastructure and/or culture that will only benefit the few, slow everyone else down needlessly, and do little or nothing to improve the transportation picture generally. Among other things, I think it's significant that very few young adults have anything to do with the increase in bicycle use. In short, there are a lot of increasingly pissed off people out there, and they're pissed off because bicyclists and bicycle advocates have apparently done a poor job of getting their message out. (E.g., bicyclists take the lane because they care about survival, not establishing their "dominance.") We need to do much better; any thoughts?