First of all, I think that infrastructure does play a big role when it comes to getting people to ride bicycles. But no matter how many bicycle paths we build, sometimes we will have to ride on the road along with the people who drive cars.
When we ride on the road, cars come really close to us when they overtake us, or they can do the classic revving the engine while driving behind us. Since this happens so often to people who ride their bicycles to commute, it can easily become a bike vs. car fight, where you see all car drivers as the enemy but I have an experience I would like to share with you all.
My boyfriend moved to Denmark with me and he decided to buy a bike, you know one of those with click on shoes and really narrow tires – yes he became a proper CYCLIST! He was riding on roads like our A roads and he noticed how much room the people driving gave him when they overtook him. We then moved to England where he brought his bike with him but this was a completely different story. He experienced what most of us experience every day, and we sat down talked about it; why does this difference from Denmark to England exist? We ended up concluding that most people ride or have ridden a bike in Denmark, everyone knows the feeling of being overtaken too close when you are on a bike and, therefore, when they are driving their car, they know exactly how much room they should give to the person on the bike. They know how stressful it can be to have a car right behind you revving the engine and because of that; they treat people on bicycles better.
So before we declare war on cars, maybe we should give them a chance. They might actually not be aware of how much room you need on a bike. There is only one way to find out, go ask someone who has never used a bike as a means of transport and see if he or she deliberately goes close on bikes or if she is simply not aware.