I have decided that I like MUPs -- and not just as stoplight bypass-roads.
I have a few friends who are tentative riders. They like the idea of getting out on a bike, but riding in traffic scares the bejeezus out of them.
I could tell them about Rule 5, I suppose -- but I'm trying to reclaim a certain gentleness and kindness that I've misplaced a bit in the last couple years of learning to ride confidently in traffic. It makes more sense to get them out on their bikes (or, if necessary, one of mine) and riding, which eventually leads to more confident riding, which eventually leads to trying the roads.
That's how I got started, when I started riding again. I took advantage of every alley, bike lane, and MUP I could find. I look now at the routes I used to ride and realize that some of them were a bazillion times more dangerous than riding on the roads that run parallel; some of them, however, are still equally safe and far more serviceable (the older bits of Louisville offer a host of alleys that make excellent traffic-snarl bypasses, allowing bikes to move quickly and efficiently while cars idle bumper-to-bumper on the 'real' roads).
So I like MUPs because they help my bike-newbie friends ride more -- and because that means I get to ride with my friends more often.
But I also like them for entirely selfish reasons.
Riding in traffic, I tend to move fast and to ride with intense focus. Riding the MUPs lets me slow down and enjoy the ride a bit more -- on the MUPs, I can tootle along at eight miles an hour if I feel like it, or stop randomly without fear of accidentally cutting off a driver, or roll along with a friend, chatting and enjoying the scenery (it's hard to hear each-other when you're hammering away, single-file, at road speeds).
On the MUP, I can relax my vigilance just a bit. Not entirely, because there are still other MUP users, and I want their rides, jogs, and strolls to be just as pleasant as mine -- but I can relax it a bit, and that lets me relax a bit more.
So, there you have it. I like MUPs. I would not like to be forcibly confined to them at all times (especially since our local MUPs have a 20 MPH speed limit, and I enjoy riding faster than that when I'm feeling the mojo), but I enjoy having the option -- much like drivers have the option of lower-speed scenic byways like the Blue Ridge Parkway (I wonder what will happen to the BRP when gas prices make driving it unfeasible? Right now, lots of cyclists use it already, for training and touring. Perhaps we'll see more.).