Our friend Clarence over at Streetfilms went to the federal capital to have a look at some of the recent progress they've made building bike lanes, and he's found some great examples of protected ones that make life much better for cyclists. My favorite is the center-running bike lane down the middle of the iconic Pennsylvania avenue. If you can do that there, you should be able to fit bike lanes almost anywhere!
See for yourself how great it is:
There's also a great example of a protected bike lane down 1st Street in Washington DC. Green paint is great, but sometimes you need something more to keep cars clear, so they went with plastic poles and concrete dividers to great effect. Nothing too expensive, but I'm sure it'll make cyclists a lot safer, which will attract more cyclists who might not have dared to ride on un-protected lanes. Part of the goal is safety, but part of it is also to make the city more bike-friendly so that the number of cyclists increases, right?
See for yourself how they did it:
Washington DC might not be a shining example for others on all front (too many politicians in one spot has a tendency to create a strange environment...), but this type of bike infrastructure is one thing that more cities should copy. The goal is to adapt the ideas to local conditions, though. For example, the center-running lanes on Pennsylvania avenue might not work somewhere else where there wasn't a tram running in the center before... But there's usually a way to find space for bikes if the will to do so is there. Most other cities have unused train tracks that could be converted, or the have too much parking in downtown areas (encouraging more people to drive there, creating congestion) and could convert some of it to protected bike lanes.