Here in the UK, cycling has increased massively in popularity in the past 4 years or so - the country has had some successes in international cycling competitions, plus London has a very strongly pro-cycling mayor. This has led to the rise of a large number of very casual cyclists - which I think is a very good thing. However among them you get a non trivial number of people that think it's magically fine to drive in the dark without any lights or high-viz jacket, cycling on the pavement scaring pedestrians, or running all red lights. This leads to a lot of antagonism between drivers and cyclists and basically can give us cyclists a bad name. On the other hand, there are drivers that have been known to do massively stupid things, like hit a cyclist, not stop, and then tweet about it.
I am very optimistic about the future as mass cycling in big western cities is still quite a new phenomenon, so I think that things will gradually ease out. In the mean time, if you want to be safe, my advice would be:
* Obey the rules of traffic. Always.
* Make your self visible. Drivers just need to see you
* Be obvious. Make it 100% clear where you intend to go. No surprises. A driver that sees you and knows where you will turn, will not cut you over
* Respect. Pedestrians, drivers, cyclists.
* *NEVER* overtake lorries / trucks from the inside. They cannot see you.
* Learn how to drive. This way, you will learn how to obey the law and (perhaps more importantly) you will understand how it feels to drive next to a cyclist and what kind of perception drivers have
* Where possible, avoid big streets. It's much more possible than you may think. Get a bicycle case for your smartphone. Use (shameless plug) my app, google, or anything else you may like
be safe, and enjoy cycling!