Bike lanes are awesome.
They create a space in which the novice cyclist feels safe. It encourages cycling, and gets more people on the road.
Plus, bike lanes feel fast because you don't have to worry as much about maintaining CONSTANT VIGILANCE regarding the traffic around you.
Bike lanes infantilize a legitimate form of road transportation.
As a cyclist and equal citizen of the road, I am entitled to all the privileges of the road. I don't need to be siphoned off into a special safety lane.
Bike lanes also discourage cycling in the sense that a novice cyclist, used to the bike lane oasis, will not venture out onto new roads, and will feel discouraged from cycling if the trip cannot be made using bike lanes.
Where do I stand?
I'm in favor of them being a resource to the beginning cyclist, but am leery of cyclists becoming dependent on them.
I think bike lanes are good in that they remove an obstacle between the road and a curious cyclist; they serve the valuable function of offering a feeling of security.
I also think that as cyclists gain experience and confidence in the bike lanes, they will venture out onto other roads that don't have bike lanes. And there they will gain vehicular cycling experience.
Bike lanes are like training wheels for grown-ups.