In my part of Melbourne bikes have been cool for a long time. It's close to the city, it gets clogged up with car and public transport traffic, and there are lots of parks, so riding is mostly a pleasure.
Unfortunately recent years has seen the bike go beyond a useful cheap mechanical form of transport, to being a fashion statement. The funny side is, a lot of people walk their bikes around on the footpaths and never seem to ride them, particularly up and down the busy shopping strips where all of the bars and cafes are.
The more disturbing part is, the fashion aspect of the bike comes before safety, if safety is ever even considered. The worst case of this I have seen sums it up completely. I saw a young guy with great hair (so how could he possibly wear a helmet?) riding after nine PM one night in winter, so it was dark, with no lights, no hands, talking on his mobile phone, not looking where he was going through a roundabout. It could only have been worse if he'd had a child strapped to his back or under his arm going through a red light and running over a blind old person.Whilst this was extreme, the two most common acts of ignorant selfishness I see on a daily basis are the lack of a helmet and the failure to stop at lights and intersections.
In order for cyclists to deserve respect on the roads, they need to follow the rules that, by-and-large are there for the protection of everyone using the road.
People are often seriously hurt and sometimes killed whilst cycling on the roads. I'm not going to say its their own fault as there are many many circumstances that can lead to an accident, but seeing what I have seen, both as a cyclist myself and as a pedestrian and driver, I am not overly surprised when I see hear about another cyclist "coming a gutsa" on the road.
I might be getting old and misty eyed, but I think if people cared more about each other, they would take the care that would prevent pain to themselves and those around them!