A father and son comfortably bike down a slow Arlington street. They approach the new Hayes Street cycletrack. The father asks, “Want to take the special bike lane?” The son responds with an excited, “Yeah!”

I overheard that interaction this past weekend and had to stop and smile.

That one brief conversation sums up why protected bike lanes are so great: They make city streets safe, comfortable and fun for even children to bicycle on. Not to mention older people, less-able people and novice cyclists.

If Americans ever hope to make cycling for transportation a mainstream activity, cycling must feel comfortable for everyone. Getting bikes out of the path of speeding cars is a big part of that.

Dan Malouff is an Arlington County transportation planner who blogs independently at BeyondDC.com. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.