The 8 mile loop I ride is a mix of narrow roads, bike lanes, multi-user path and sidewalks.
I do not ride on sidewalks as a rule. They are too narrow and I hate to negotiate around pedestrians.
I like the bike lanes and prefer them. They are usually wide enough to ride around any debris or broken pavement.
Two of the roads do not have bike lanes. Mansfield is too narrow so they widened one of the sidewalks to accommodate multi-users. It is concrete and has curves. It is good for pedestrians but not for bikes going faster than 10 mph. I only ride it when I am with Andy. Meadow Pointe Boulevard is currently a two lane road. The right of way will accommodate future lanes. There is a wide multi-user path (MUP) along one side so they opted not to provide bike lanes. I used to ride the MUP. I had to yield to pedestrians and most of the time it was OK. Other times, pedestrians would walk/run in the middle of the path. I learned to say “on your left!” when passing another cyclist. This doesn't work so well with pedestrians. Most didn't know what it meant and some would even move to their left and I would have to brake hard. I began to say “Behind you!” which worked better except for those wearing headphones. I got a bell but found that only help a bit more. People walking dogs is another problem. The dogs would hear the bell but their owners might not. Some people even let their dogs walk without a leash. I do not trust those dogs. Who knows what they might do as I ride by. The worst obstacles are kids waiting for the bus. They are oblivious to others and like to stand in the middle of the path. Many are too busy texting others to pay attention to their immediate surroundings. Even after ringing my bell, there were still some people that would not move. I once said something and a parent told me to ride in the street. I am offended by this as I have a right to ride on the MUP.
I prefer the MUP along SR56. There are less people and obstacles. When the path was closed last September because of construction, I did ride in the bike lane. The speed limit on SR56 is 55mph which means most are driving 60mph or faster. I have to trust that they will stay in their lanes and allow me to ride. I learned to ride confidently but was more than happy to go back to the MUP when it reopened.
One day, I was riding south along the MUP on MPB. I saw some people taking up a majority of the path ahead. I decided to move to the street to avoid them. To my surprise, I found the road to be smoother. The MUP is asphalt but not to the standards of the road construction. The pavement is uneven which can be felt when riding. I started riding in the street on MPB even when the MUP was not blocked. I have not had any problems with vehicles coming too close or hinting at me to get out of the way. I typically hug the white line. One problem is that I have to stop for school buses. The worse is when I have to stop for a bus at the bottom of Hillhurst. I hate losing that momentum.
Another benefit to riding in the road is that vehicles on adjacent roads, will stop for me whereas they usually don't if you are crossing the street at the MUP. Drivers ignore the stop signs and the white lines where they should stop behind. I know I am no saint, but I have become more aware and careful since I started riding again.
Riding in the road is generally safe. Drivers need to be aware of cyclists and allow them to ride. Cyclists need to be aware that not all drivers will give them the right of way. I typically ride expecting drivers to do the “wrong” thing.