Since the 70s the battle has raged between those who advocate 'vehicular cycling' - operating a bicycle as a vehicle, on the roadways, according to the rules and laws of the road, and those who advocate for bicycle-specific facilities, including bike lanes, bike paths, multi-use-paths, etc. During that time the amount of bicycle-specific facilities has grown and increased, but the thinking of vehicular cycling advocates remained the same, opposing such facilities and maintaining that the ONLY safe way to operate a bicycle is to adopt the vehicular cycling paradigm.
But vc advocates also readily admit that one can operate a bicycle as a pedestrian - using the rules of pedestrians while operating a bicycle in a pedestrian environment, ie. sidewalks. They also admit that many bicycle-specific facilities are not safe if one uses them and rides in the vc manner, as a user of the road. Based on this safety issue they have continued to oppose bicycle specific facilities, despite the fact that the vast majority of cyclists - the non-professionals - prefer those facilities rather than the road.
It is time to end this debate, which only fractures the cycling community as a whole and reduces our effectiveness in he public policy arena. Perhaps it is time that bicycling facility advocates stipulate that those facilities are not safe for vehicular cyclists, while vehicular cycling advocates stipulate that a great many riders do not wish to ride on the roadway as vehicles and prefer seperate facilities. Then, both sides should work together to identify, document and teach a new paradigm called BC - bicycle cycling (ok someone else will come up with a better name) - that will teach best practices when riding on bicycle specific facilities - a combination of vehicular cycling, pedestrian cycling, common sense and street smarts. A new paradigm that can coexist with both vehicular cycling and pedestrian cycling, giving cyclists a broader range of skill options to fit the riding environment that the feel the most comfortable with, while not threatening the existence of the others (which will require a unified vigilance when it comes to politicians).
Discuss...and this is NOT a vehicular cycling debate, nor a bike lane debate. The point of this thread, and others that hopefully follow, will be to identify best practices that allow cyclists to operate in a safe and efficient manner USING BICYCLE SPECIFIC FACILITIES, including paths, lanes and MUPs. Discussions of how to use the roadways can be discussed in the many vehicular cycling threads.