Michael Langdon brought to my attention an interesting literature review on the impact of infrastructure on bicycle injuries and crashes. The paper looked at safety at intersections and between intersections worldwide. The paper provides a useful overview of international research into cyclists safety with an interesting overview of the research reviewed.
The majority of the literature on intersections dealt with roundabouts. As would be expected the research found that multi-lane roundabouts are hazardous to cyclists. Separating cyclists from traffic at roundabouts, either through lanes or separate paths, improved the safety of roundabouts for cyclists.
The research shows that the most hazardous place for cyclists is on the footpath. This would seem counter-intuitive to most parents who usually advise their children to use the footpath. Unfortunately the paper does not go into this in more detail but it does indicate that much of the risk is due to cyclists entering intersections and crossing driveways in the opposite direction to traffic.
The research shows that the safest place for a cyclists is on a purpose-built cycle facility (cycle route, cycle lanes, cycle paths etc). Cycling on road was found to be less dangerous than cycling on the footpath with pedestrians. There are several Internet articles that discuss this subject including this one by Ken Kifer and they all agree: footpaths are dangerous places to cycle.
From this it is clear, providing a cycle lane on a road may be safer than providing a wide footpath. If there is a need for cyclists to be accommodated off-road it is essential that a purpose built facility is provided that adequately addresses safety for cyclists in the design, especially at intersections and driveways. Just widening the footpath is likely to increase the risk to cyclists unless the major areas of risk, at intersections and driveways, is not adequately addressed.