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When I lived in Paris (and this was a couple years before Velib started), cyclists were encouraged to use the dedicated bus lanes within the city -- the lanes were marked as bus and bike only. Similar to the 7th St. NW lane.

It worked just fine -- with the stops that busses make, bicycles were generally faster than busses. The only conflict was when you ended up just behind or just in front of a bus, and the two of you might have to go around one another for a block or two.

One big bit of difference between Paris and Washington: private vehicles didn't dare use those bus lanes.

The SF story sounds like a pretty typical problem: the designers were not those who would be actually using them, and so they did not understand crucial realities.

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