Spending a season here in The Netherlands, we have grown very fond of our bikes. They are our main--only-- local transportation mode. Bike paths are everywhere, within and between towns. This is the route I ride every morning, between home and my office at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study-NIAS.
Dutch bikes are designed for urban life, and sturdy. It's common to see parents wheeling along with one kid mounted on a seat on the handlebars, another sitting on a seat over the rear fender. No one except visiting Americans wears helmets. The Dutch were serious cyclists long before the helmet thing started. Bikes are just a way of life here, and motorists know how to deal with them. (And beyond the reach of American liability lawyers, life usually does become a little less...restrictive, does it not?) The threat to ordinary vernacular bikers is not vehicle traffic, but hordes of road bikers moving at speed, silently, and very often in packs. (None of them have bells either, which is usually how Dutch bikers signal they are coming up behind; I guess the road racers figure that with all the expensive form-fitting suits and aerodynamic helmets, a bell on the handlebar would...what? Disrupt the airflow?)
This my aged Batavus machine, a girl-bike, loaded up outside the grocery store.
This (below) is the NIAS campus. Lots of beeches. And beaches--ten minutes by bike, on paths over the dunes.