There was a lot of interesting talk about bike lanes at the recent meeting in Burlington.
I've spent some time on this issue in the past, and the format I favour is a 10 foot wide lane with a 5 foot lane each way with a blue stripe in the middle separated from the street.
I first came across this format at Cherry Beach in Toronto, and I saw a lot of people using the lane in all different types of ways. Not only bikers, but also roller bladders and joggers can all use this format at the same time. A bicyclist can pass very widely around slower traffic with this width in way a single lane doesn't afford. I prefer the term “Roller Path” because I don't see why we should not also support roller blades, scooters, etc. Another exciting element is that I saw small children biking along with everyone else.
If you want to change people's habits, you want to set them up for an active life style as children. On-road bike paths are a non-starter for me as with small children the chance of a fatal fall is just too great. We have a responsibility to invest beyond the initial ridership. The obesity problem is completely out of control, and we have to start getting a handle on it.
That said, bike lanes will not function as a mass transit system no matter how much we might want them to. I've been at many meetings were some one presents it as a solution to upcoming road congestion. When it gets cold, it's simply going to be too slushy, cold, and miserable for the average person. Often I'm then presented with the idea that people should be “tougher”. Well maybe so, but I think we should design communities for people as we find them and not think city marketing is going to change how people live.
I think this design is the best way to get people biking with a great experience.