I cycle (you know this already). I cycle on roads, off roads and on cycle lanes and paths. I tour, commute and shop on one bike, play on my road bike and MTB. I cover about 3000 miles a year. So I think I have a fair bit of experience of cycling provision in the UK. Most cycle paths/lanes are of poor design and quality - painted lip service to cycle provision - and a lot of UK urban roads designed with the motorist in mind and no thought for cyclists at all. You have to be confident, quick and thick skinned to use some of these roads. I am a cycle convert though. I am happy to use my bikes in traffic (despite my recent left hook). I will cycle whatever and make the best of it. It doesn't mean I like it all the time.
Most non or occasional cyclists I talk to will not countenance cycling on the majority of UK main roads and cycling infrastructure. They find the idea mad, dangerous and suicidal. I understand why they feel this way. I will not let my young daughter cycle on UK roads, with my supervision, so why should I expect others to let their children? Why would a slow, under-confident 'leisure' cyclist choose to cycle a mile or so to the shops along a busy road when they can drive? How can these potential cyclists be encouraged to get on their bikes?
The Dutch, whatever your thoughts on how they do it, do promote cycling across a broad demographic. Up to the 70s however the car reigned supreme there as well. Some UK cyclists rubbish the Dutch style model for use in the UK despite their success. One of the main elements they seem to oppose is the segregation of cyclists and other traffic - completely separate lanes for cyclists rather than painted lanes on existing roads common in much of the UK. They argue there isn't space and it will cost too much to provide. However, I fear what some cyclists are really concerned about is the loss of the right to use the road because of the provision of segregated cycling lanes and paths. I can totally understand this fear. I would much rather use the road than what passes for cycle paths/lanes on the whole. But there are some UK roads I am legally entitled to cycle on now I will not use anymore. I am just not that quick or confident to cycle on 50-60 mph dual carriageways for instance! In essence these roads are already banned to me. Just what is wrong with having quality cycle paths running alongside this type of road I wonder?
The suggestion segregation would not work in the UK in total nonsense IMHO. Promoting segregated cycle infrastructure in the UK as not about digging up and rebuilding all routes or barring cyclists from the roads. It is about applying selective segregation where it can work and would make a difference. In other places different measures would be needed to make cycling safer. Measures like: traffic calming, reducing speed limits, shared space schemes, increased permeability for cyclists, reducing HGV use at certain times/locations and so on and so on.
Increasing the number of cyclists and making it easier to cycle rather than use a car are things that can go a long way to aiding the environment and improving health. Segregation is just one tool in the box to increase cycling numbers. It should not be made out to be unsuitable for the UK because of the vested interests of a few fit and confident cyclists who fear they will lose out. Cycling should be for all who want it and the infrastructure should encourage this not and not limit it.