Follow the links in this post on the Surly blog to stories about people using pedal power in their daily lives.
On Commute by Bike, riders report various levels of increased commuter activity in their areas. The site also has a poll asking readers about the level of physical activity in the jobs to which they commute. Results are heavily skewed since the poll is on a website. Respondents need to have Internet access and find the site, which narrows the sample considerably. But the discussion goes on.
Around here, I sense far less hostility than usual, and more respect. This is not a very hostile riding area, but being rural it has what I can only call a redneck element which most commonly dishes out contemptuous gestures. These include passing too close, sudden downshifts, excessive use of the horn, thrown objects, poured beer and indecipherable yelling. I've seen less of that this year.
As tourist traffic increases we get city people who bring their hatred of cyclists with them. Since the tourist season hasn't really gotten going, I have no data on that group.
There will always be highly principled, die-hard bike haters. Recently, one truck driver laid on the horn behind a cyclist in downtown Wolfeboro, then shoved past, cut in and slammed on the brakes before accelerating away. Drivers like that are in or nearly in the same category as the ones who mowed down that pedestrian in Hartford, CT, whether they want to acknowledge it or not. It seems there will always be homicidal sociopaths. But tolerance in general definitely seems to be rising.
In any war there is always a last casualty. Assume nothing when you go out to ride. And accidents still happen. Still, it's nice to feel a little less like prey and more like a good example.