One of my largest consistent problems when cycling around town is that at some point or another I will need to travel allong a roadway where the posted speed limit is 40+mph with fairly heavy trafic. In most cases there are both sidewalks and bikelanes allong these roadways.
I can personaly only manage around an average of 17mph so the speed differential is significant. If I ride in the road I WILL slow down trafic which tends to lead to large proportions of cars buzzing me, or riding dangerously close behind me (as little as 3 feet in a couple of cases). In these cases I worry that unexpectd road conditions/debris will leave me with little space or time to manuver. I've also had my helmet clipped once by a passing truck with wide mirror mounts who apparently thaught that they had given me enough space when passing.
On the other hand If I ride in the bike lane, because of the heavy traffic cars are much more likley to not notice me. Because of the heavy traffic the bike lanes significantly increase my risk of getting caught by cars turning right without checking for cyclists. This has also caused many near accients for me which were hard to avoid as the cars failed to signal their turns.
Finaly the side walk is heavily traveled with pedestrians and has telephone poles positioned directly in the center of the paved walkway making it difficult to ride allong in general.
Can anyone offer advice as to how to navigate this situation? I dont really want to knwo which is better, bike lanes or riding with trafic, as far as I can tell both are pretty poor in this situation. Im more looking for tips for how to take these roadways as safely as I can. My current method is to ride just outside of the bikelane in order to force motorists to notice my existance, and use the bikelane as an excape area if I get crowded out, or run into poor road conditions.