As a Seattlelite living in Germany, I get to bicycle on roads and trails in Germany and the Netherlands. Separating cycle and auto traffic is common here, esp. in the Netherlands, where they have red bike lanes. I find it easier both as a cyclist and a car driver.
Over here people ride bikes everywhere, not as an in-your-face protest, but as a practical and economical means of getting around. In Seattle, folks have shiny bikes they rarely ride. Over here, people have beater bikes they ride everywhere. There is nothing unusual about seeing some guy riding to work in office clothes, wearing a leather jacket and smokin’ a cigarette. Totally casual.
Some American riders are very purpose-driven by comparison (dare I say, elitist?), and that is perhaps a source of friction between cyclists and drivers. I’ve heard riders in the states claim that separating bikes from autos and trucks makes bikes a “second class” form of transportation. Maybe, but it seems to me that mixing bikes and fast, heavy vehicles with limited visibility is simply not practical. Think about it: Are you out there to make a statement and prove something, or do you just want to go to the Quicky Mart and back with a minimum of drama?
If the goal is to genuinely promote cycling for everyone, make it safe and convenient for everyone, including the elderly, children, and the rest of us who are waaay to overweight to be caught dead in spandex.