This article at Copenhagenize.com looks at two aspects of the bicycle explosion which is happening worldwide. The author classifies these two aspects as “bicycle commuting” and “bicycle culture”.
Bicycle commuting is focussed on the use of the bicycle to get to work. This will usually be seen as a substitute for the car or public transport. Often the distances are long (10-20kms) and the speeds high (35+ km/hr). The riders wear special clothing (famously lycra) and equipment including an expensive bike. Even in countries with large numbers of cyclists and no mandatory requirement, these riders will normally choose to wear a helmet.
This is the predominant type of cycling we have seen and continue to see in the Anglophone world. It is also sometimes closely aligned with vehicular cycling. It is also normally associated with cycling as a sport rather than as a means of transport.
Bicycle culture may include some commuting but is more focussed on short trips for a wide variety of purposes. Journeys are usually less than 5 kms with a speed of 15-20km/hr. Riders are normally dressed in street clothes (and in a very small number of countries, are also required to wear a helmet).
This is not a very visible part of cycling in the Anglophone world (although growing in places like Portland and Dublin) and is most famous in European cycling meccas like the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and parts of Germany.
There has also recently been a call in Christchurch for a revival of the cycling culture that dominated the Garden City (or Cyclopia) until the 1960s. The people in the article clearly see that real growth will happen by concentrating on creating a bicycle culture not bicycle commuting (which may well be at saturation point in Christchurch).
Now this post is not intended to make any judgment calls and I realise that lots of you will feel that you are one or the other at different times and for different purposes. I would definitely place myself in the bicycle culture camp but please dont think I am criticising those who subscribe to the more bicycle commuting approach.
As I have said before, the more of us are out there, the safer we are.