It's about more than walkable neighborhoods. It's also about community and atmosphere. Doesn't it become obviously clear when one looks at the pictures, that that particular San Francisco neighborhood lacks both and the Dutch one does not? And, before you say it again, I think that both pictures are quite representative of their respective areas.
When I was in the UK, I was personally quite amazed (though not surprised) by the small number of cyclists there. What further astounded me was their treating cycling as a life-threatening adventure which somehow has to involve body armor. I mean, safety is a good thing, I agree, but helmets, for leisurely riding through the city? Also, I think this has to do with elevations (or at least I hope so), I found it rather odd that everyone I saw was riding sports-type bicycles. Just look at some of the posted pictures to see what I mean.
I think the best point to be made about the Dutch and the Americans and bicycles is that when a member or head of the Dutch government is portrayed while riding a bicycle, he is doing so because he wants to be seen as an ordinary Dutchman, using his bicycle to get from one place to another, while president Bush recently wanted to be seen as a man who manages to stay in shape in spite of a very busy job (this is admirable in its own right).
Mikie: when was IMG_6373 taken? I think I can see my bike (it was parked there for some time when I was on vacation).
I'm lucky enough to have never broken a bone before. *knocks on wood* According to my mother and my earliest memories, I've always been extremely cautious. I've never engaged in any activity more dangerous than bunny slope skiing.
The countries in general or the two spots where you chose to take pictures? I can walk across the street any day school is in session and get a shot with about that many bikes, if that is what you are getting at.
I couldn't help but think of the junk collectors in Robots.
I remember the narrow, twisty streets of the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. They didn't make it easy to find something the first time you went there, and you could easily get lost, but they were much more pedestrian-friendly than car-friendly. Many, many other streets in the city were designed for cars. These streets were designed before there were cars to consider. Even in the other sections of the city, people walked a lot more than in my city in northeastern Ohio, USA.
Here, stuff is so spread out you have to drive unless you want to spend your life pedaling. When I run errands, I can't go to one central location and walk from there. I go here, and there, and over there. If I walk across a street to go to a different store than I parked at, people think I'm crazy.
An Ohioan friend of mine bought a mountain bike. He got it home, opened up the manual and read "Not for off-road use." That doesn't exactly relate to this discussion, but it does provide evidence for US-misunderstanding of bicycles.
Q: How many poets does it take to change a light bulb? A: 1001...one to change the bulb, 1000 to say it's already been done.