Here's something that bothers me about the anti-BL position, even though I tend to lean in that direction. (See, I'm not a total idealogue!) It's been obliquely referenced in other threads, but I wanted to see if I could formulate the question as directly as possible and get your responses.
Is sharing the car lanes something that remains practical no matter how many bicyclists there are? What if 25% of all vehicles on the road were bicycles? (Unfortunately, even this is probably too optimistic of a number, but let's use it for the sake of discussion.) Would a mix of 25% bikes and 75% cars be able to successfully share the same lanes? Does an increasing ratio of bikes to cars lead to an overall increased or decreased ability to share the same lanes, or both at different ratios and depending on other variables?
I think this is a weakness in the anti-BL position. ("Well, duh!", I can hear many of you saying. ) As many of you no doubt will point out, requiring completely vehicular cycling and lane sharing with cars does inhibit many potential cyclists from engaging in the activity, if an informal poll of all of our family and friends means anything. And even if drivers are willing to be held up for a few seconds by maybe one cyclist every few miles, what if it were a continuous stream of cyclists, with varying levels of ability and willingness to abide by the law? Could that be tenable? Does that mean that some form of bike lanes will eventually be required should the ratio of bikes in the traffic stream reach a certain threshold? And does that mean that advocating for more people to cycle but opposing bike lanes are incompatible goals?
Oh my, I seem to converting myself!
Sorry if this sounds like trolling, but as someone who does not have many bike lanes and has learned and believes in vehicular riding, I'd like to hear, especially from the other vehicular advocates here, if and why that position is still practical past a certain threshold of cyclists, and what you think that threshold might be.
Also welcome would be opinions from people who have actually experienced cycling in other countries that have a ratio of bikes to cars that approaches or exceeds 25%. How do they handle their infrastructure? Do any of them attempt to have the two kinds of vehicles use the same lanes?
Last note: Let's try to avoid the debate about if bike lanes are the cause or effect of increasing the number of cyclists. I know that's a controversial area, and I'm not interesting in arguing the studies and statistics on it on this thread. What I'm asking is, if cycling were somehow to increase signficantly in an area without bike lanes, would it still be feasible to have them all sharing the lane with the cars, or would some separation eventually become inevitable?