Alex Steffen from Worldchanging has been visiting 'bicycle-friendly' cities in the US and discussing their transport infrastructures - here is an excerpt from a recent post:
"A couple weeks ago, I visited Davis, California to check out its world-class bicycle planning, which held up as being truly remarkable. But trying to better incorporate bikes into a city's transportation system is not just about implementing clever or innovative ideas, it's also about overcoming decades of poor planning and bureaucratic inertia. A great exploration of exactly how difficult a task that is can be found in Dave Neiwert's piece, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, which details the reasons why Seattle, despite being a hotbed of green thinking, still stinks as a place to ride:
[T]he Seattle area's oft-touted bicycling system is actually a happenstance, an often broken network that doesn't function particularly well, especially when it comes to providing a complete infrastructure that could encourage people to take up bike commuting.
A 2005 study by the Cascade Bicycle Club, titled "Left by the Side of the Road," found that even though the Puget Sound region boasts a 1,521-mile bicycle network, "many needed improvements are necessary to turn this . . . into a true, working system." It found that 27 percent of the existing network "fails to meet the basic needs of bicyclists. This means that bicyclists attempting to navigate the region face severe safety hazards and sometimes insurmountable accessibility challenges—and there are no practical alternative routes."