I've long been troubled by the concept of bicycle lanes. Not because they are intrinsically bad. They're not. They can be very good. In a small number of European cities they seem to have been done really well. In those cities, they are all pervasive and excellently executed. Very often they provide total separation from other traffic uses.
Here in Australia, bike lanes are little more that a line painted on the road. Usually with no thought to engineering, safety, separation of uses or how the various road users interact at the point where they cross paths. Add to this the fact that once the line is painted there is never any thought given to keeping them free of debris or maintaining the surface. This means that all of the debris which falls on and is then pushed off the "motor vehicle" part of the roadway ends up in the cycle lane.
Perhaps the worst and most insidious effect of the bicycle lane is that it forms a view in the minds of many motorists that cyclists don't have the right to ride anywhere else. Sometimes this view extends to places where there are no bicycle lanes. The thinking goes something like, "There are bicycle lanes on other roads, so this cyclist should be using this road, then she wouldn't be in my way". Illogical? Yes!
Here lies a great deal of conflict. I frequently ride outside of a marked bicycle lane because it's just too dangerous to ride in it. The bicycle lane which randomly stops and starts because of road width changes or obstacles is often worse than no lane. The rider needs to keep merging into traffic which believes the cyclist is safely separated from their lane. Riding to work in the dark in a bicycle lane littered with obstacles, garbage, gravel from surfacing works, wheelie bins, parked cars, drainage grilles and a thousand other surprises is crazy. I'd rather take my chances with the traffic. It may work better if governments and bicycle advocacy organisations worked toward educating motorists and cyclists of shared rights and responsibilities. Instead they endlessly invalidate the rights of cyclists to use the road by emphasising bicycle lanes as "the answer".
I offer, for your pleasure, a picture of one of my favourite bicycle lanes. One I (dis)use every time I ride home from work. Note that the grille takes up the entire width of the marked bicycle lane except for 50mm (yes, I measured it). So what did the "cunning" designers do? Re-design the drainage? Change the style of grille? No. They just discontinued the white line for about 5 metres each side of the grille. That way it doesn't impede cyclists ride along the lane because there's no bike lane there. Genius! This is a busy stretch of single lane road, but the only safe way to ride it is to the right of the cycle lane, so as to avoid darting out into traffic to go around the drain. It's great for the abuse level.
Get in the effing bike lane you d!ckhead!!!