Protected Bike Lanes were first developed in Norther European countries to physically separate bicycles form cars to increase safety and to make bicycle lanes Appealing by incorporating landscaping and tree along the rout. This also make it safe for people of all ages and riding abilities to safely ride their bikes. It is this feature that make biking so popular year round in countries with a lot of rain and very cold and snowy weather.
This has a strategy communities serious about drawing more of their community to ride their bikes such as Portland Oregon and New York City. There are many templates for such trail from Europe and U.S. cities (see Safe & Pleasant Bike Lane Designs for photos). This design consideration fulfills two of my criterion for a successful bicycle: Safety and Appeal.
Safety – Safety from accidents with cars is so important in making bicycling popular. If people do not feel bicycle paths safe, people who casually bicycle will not venture out to bicycle. Most parents will not allow their young children to bicycle in street that they feel are unsafe which is most streets withing our city. So in order to draw out more people to bicycle our roads we must build bicycle paths that have the appearance of being safe. This can best be done by placing physical separation/barriers between cars traffic and bicycle paths.
Appeal – After designing safe bicycle paths with physical separation from cars they need to be landscaped with shrubs, green areas and shading trees to make them pleasant and appealing. Drinking fountains should be placed periodically along such paths for bicyclists to conveniently quench their thirst for long rides. There should be shaded rest areas with seats for people to take breaks or get out of the occasional rains. The path should run along streets with shops and eateries for the convenience of bicyclists to take breaks and shop.
It is essential to build protected bicycle paths if a city is serious about drawing people our to bicycle instead of drive. The more people ride their bikes instead of drive their cars thus reducing the number of cars on the road. Reducing car traffic allows the city to sustainably grow. It should be the most important thing the city can do. Northern Europe has been working on this since 1970 and are half way to near totally bicycle nations. We can learn from them and take far less time.