The problem is that most bike riders I encounter whizz by on the sidewalk, no bell, no horns, no warning. This is often scary, about one near miss every day Almost no one wears a helmet, so that a collision with a pedestrian would hurt both parties.
There is no other place for them to ride. Bike paths have been built here and there, for some ridiculous but typically Latvian price. They are still few and far between.
The street and the highway are no place to ride. A few years ago, the answer would have been simple. A great many Latvian drivers simply are animals. Period. Now, of course, the animal count has fallen, maybe due to self-elimination by fatal accidents (these have also declined). But the average driver is still a borderline asshole, talking on a mobile phone and driving with one hand while turning a street corner where pedestrians are crossing. Just a few days ago a big jeep tried to pass me on a curved access ramp and nearly collided with a car on the main highway. Typical. And one reason why I will feel some emotional satisfaction if and when social unrest expresses itself in the burning of SUVs. To quote the Bloodhound Gang : "burn, motherf**ker, burn!"
To sum up, the main reason I have mixed feelings about the increase in cycling in Riga and Latvia generally is that this society is not civilized enough for this development to be safe and beneficial to all. Riga is not Copenhagen or Amsterdam. The society here is not the Dutch, it is a a semi-savage (when it comes to road habits), alienated, reckless rabble. And it is not likely to change in the foreseeable future. So cycle at your own risk and at risk to pedestrians (I have seen cyclists talking on their mobiles, weaving with one hand down a sidewalk with shopping bags on each of the handle bars)