Re: The main problem here..
No, ordinary people riding bicycles should not be expected to ride on footways. They should be provided with cycleways to go with the footways provided for people on foot and the carriageways for people in (motorised) carriages.
The fact that the law considers bicycles to be carriages dates back to the late 1800's before cars even existed. Bicycles may well have mixed nicely with horse-drawn carriages, and would have managed a similar speed, but bicycles most certainly do not mix safely with modern motor traffic.
Just like the Dutch and the Danes do. Much safer, much more pleasant for everyone, motorists included. It's not difficult, it just needs some sensible traffic planning and investment. I have faith that the new cycleways being built in London will show how the concept works, and the huge benefits that result.
Sadly the Tories seem hell-bent on making every major road into a motorway, so we can expect to see more traffic and even fewer people using sustainable transport.