Being a frequent reader of vehicular cyclist writings and rantings, I am pre-disposed to disliking bike lanes. If you ride like you're a car whenever it makes sense, they are completely unnecessary.
There is a relatively new bike lane here in London on Queens Ave that I rode recently. I went there on purpose, in order to take video that I strongly suspected would show that it forced cyclists to ride in the "door zone". As it turned out, there was room, even with big parked vehicles, to ride outside of the door zone, although much of your time would be spent in what I have seen termed the "startle zone". Just the same I have to confess it felt kind of nice to have some space designated for my particular kind of use. I have other criticisms of this and other painted bike lanes (though they are still few here in London), but I'll save them for when I have time to get the video ready.
I'm feeling pretty conflicted about bike lanes. On the one hand they are the current darlings of planners, some drivers and some cyclists in the same way that helmets were five or ten years ago... and I think "helmet tunnel vision" has caused all kinds of other important safety information to fall by the wayside. On the other hand, they are a clear and public call for cyclists to ride in the street rather than on the sidewalk. I know that many will say, "yeah, but they also enforce riding separate from cars when that's not the best/safest way!" Herein lies my conflict. Getting cyclists off the sidewalk is a huge thing. Making them the poor cousins on the roadway is also a huge thing.
If I had my guess, it would be that the commuter cyclists that currently read this blog (they are few but mighty) , will try to help me see one viewpoint or another on this stuff, but in the end, I want to form my own opinion. Does that mean I want more bike lanes? Not necessarily... but I do want some time to try out what is here now, and I'm sure the current political/popular appetite for them will bring more my way. If I ever feel more sure of myself on this matter, I'll let you know!
Yours in Waffling,