If there's a bike lane, and you want to neatly travel with the traffic, you're probably going to ride inside it. But if a car door flies open—as they often do—you can slam into the car door and get seriously injured. Law-abiding riders get "doored" all the time. But if you ride outside the bike lane, where the car doors can't hit you, cars and buses will careen past like you're in the wrong part of the street. Coming down the hill on East Union Street, for example, riders must gamble between the getting doored or snuggling a bus:
I love bike lanes (more than no bike lanes), don't get me wrong. They encourage lots of riders who otherwise wouldn't get on their bike at all, and you're welcome to ride in-line with traffic whether a bike lane is on the street or not. But painted bike lanes alone shouldn't be considered the ultimate goal for Seattle's pedaling soldiers in the War on Cars. Here's a good piece on what we need more of: physically separated bike lanes. A citywide campaign to paint bike lanes further from rows of parked cars and reminding drivers not to haphazardly open their car doors wouldn't hurt, either.