The best description of U.S. urban (and Burlington, VT) bicycling comes from a visitor, Dutch blogger Mark Wagenburr (NL Bicyclist) in this video:
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Getting serious about bicycling means we need to commit to the "infra" (Mark's great new word for infrastructure). Dutch busy streets feature 16,000 miles of protected bike lanes (cycle track) and lots of roundabouts. This goes a long way to explaining why even with mostly young adult men biking in the U.S. our urban bicyclists experience injury rates 25 times the Dutch/German average rate in those two nations where everyone of all ages, skill and gender bicycle--most without wearing a helmet.
As an older bicyclist, am a "sider" (sidewalks, sidestreets and backways) after years of riding on busy Vermont city streets and once in a while on narrow shoulders along 50-mph highways.
Mark's NL Cyclist home website:
Time for some cycle track and roundabouts patched for bicyclists for North American bicycle infra?