"James Ivy, great tip!
About cycling in the Netherlands, it's more comfortable because it has always been a policy to create a good infrastructure in the Netherlands in the biggest part of the country. It's about much more than only segregated cycycle paths although they are very important indeed!
Other factors which are very important:
1. Limiting the distance to work, shops and recreation
2. Limiting cars in cities
3. Limiting the cross sections for cyclists
4. Choosing for a specific design of roads to limit the number of cross sections
Here is some interesting reading material in Englisch, from the Dutch government: www.fietsberaad.nl/library/repository/bestanden/Cycling%20in%20the%20Netherlands%20VenW.pdf
This literature has been written because they got a lot of questions from foreign governments. It should be olibgated lecture for every urban architect and traffiic politician."