When I tell people that I commute to work by bicycle, their usual response is, "oh! Are you one of those assholes who runs red lights?"
When I tell people that I drive a car, I never get any such question, though from my observations, people who drive cars break traffic laws on a regular basis and in at least as great a proportion as cyclists. (This is especially true in Massachusetts where, for reasons that escape me, many drivers regard the use of turn signals as optional.)
People's second greatest complaint against bike commuiters is that many of us break traffic laws.
People's greatest complaint against us is when we obey the law and occupy an entire lane. (This is the law in Massachusetts, anyway.) It's not unusual for me to see a facebook post decrying this practice and threatening violence against the law-abiding cyclists in question.
Whenever we ride to the side of the lane, we put the convenience of drivers above our own safety.
And they hate us anyway.
I actually never take up the full lane because I don't feel safe doing so. I have had drivers attempt violence against me on two occasions just because I was on the road. Whatever risk I take of an inadvertant harm when riding at the side of the lane is, in my estimation, less than the risk I would take of an illegal assault by a driver if I were riding in the middle of the lane.
There are cyclists who engage in actions to disrupt traffic: riding en masse in circles around intersections, for example. I do not support these actions.
But I do understand them. Because the fundamental complaint that many car drivers have against us isn't that we disobey the law. Nor is it that we obey the law. They just don't want us to exist. You can't reason or negotiate with such an attitude, so, while again I feel that it's counterproductive and stupid, I do understand why cyclists want to engage in illegal actions like this and rub the fact of our existence in the face of the majority. They hate us no matter what we do, so why should we behave in a considerate, socially acceptible way?
Because it's the right thing to do, and, as I said so memorably in Shutout, it's important to do the right thing especially when other people are not.