If we really want to encourage more people to use bikes it has to be taken to the next level, and that would be separated and protected bike paths. This also includes carefully thought out bike/car intersections to avoid as much conflict as possible and well thought out bike paths that actually get bicyclist from point A to point B in a fast direct route.
Since this would mean taking up a bit more space then is currently used for bike lanes, in many cases it would mean eliminating a lane of motor vehicle traffic and converting it a protected bike path. There are a number of ways of doing this. A few photos to illustrate what a protected bike path is
This from Vancouver with a physical barrier between bikes and motor vehicles. Notice how the bike path is not also a pedestrian path. It’s separated from all other modes of transportation. This creates a high degree of real and subjective safety for bicyclist. It also makes driving easier.
This from NYC that uses parked cars as a barrier from moving motor vehicles with a buffer zone to create a protected bike path. This is relatively inexpensive as it simple moves parked cars into the street and creates a bike path next to the sidewalk, as opposed to placing the bike lane next to moving traffic. Again, bikes, motor vehicles and pedestrian have their own space.
One of the major issues with protected bike paths is how to deal with intersections. These two videos show one way to do it. Notice how the intersection is designed to keep bicyclist and motor vehicles separated. There is little problem with interaction as each have their own set of lights.
On this type on intersection below the interaction is even less.
Of course not every road needs this type of bike infrastructure. What’s necessary is to have a network setup so bicyclist can get from point A to point B by the most direct speedy route, same as motor vehicles. In a very real sense we need highways for bikes in urban areas. That’s what this is about. It’s not necessary on residential streets as traffic is normally light and slow.
Without this bike highway getting from point A to point B can be an exercise in frustration. Bikes are to often forced into intimidating situations. Getting there by the fastest route often means using busy fast roads. Often times it's the only way to get there. Vehicular cycling, which means bikes using the roadways in the same way as motor vehicles, simple doesn’t work well on these types of roads.
To many bad interactions between bicyclist and motor vehicles is a sign of a poorly thought out infrastructure. A mistake is made in thinking we just need to educate both bicyclist and drivers on... better etiquette... or whatever it is they are trying to educate us on. There is something to better education, but it's only a small part. Without better infrastructure there is only so far we can go. Both drivers and bicyclist would benefit from better infrastructure for bikes.
Money isn't a problem. We are spending many millions of dollars on roads in Madison and the surrounding communities. A very small percentage of that goes to bicycle infrastructure. Last I head about 3 1/2%. Considering that bike infrastructure cost far less then what infrastructure for motor vehicles cost there is no excuse for what we have. Its simple a matter of political will, or lack of it.
Another interesting video on peace braking out with motor vehicles. And notice how many bikes there are.