See: "Cycling in the Netherlands."[pdf] The Directorate-General for Passenger Transport,
Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat (Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management), The Netherlands, 2007. 62pp.
Some titbits will be surprising. Perhaps the most startling: according to a mobility study, 70% of all journeys are 7.5km or less. And 61% of people making these trips either walk or cycle!
The Ministry's webpage says,
"Bicycles are fast – in the city, they are often faster than cars. Cycling is healthy. Bicycles are environmentally friendly. So the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management is promoting this means of transportation, particularly indirectly through provinces and municipalities, which will then build cycle paths and provide bicycle racks. There are many benefits to bicycles, both for you and for the country."