In America and the UK, bikes are rarely used even for short trips, only 2% of trips under 2.5km. Source: Making Cycling Irresistible
Mikael at Copenhagenize points us to a great article in the (UK) Times by Janice Turner, who suggests that biking should be ordinary and everyday.
In Europe's top three cycling nations -- Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands -- timorous old people cycle, women as often as men, children bike off unaccompanied to school. Cycling is not a moral manifesto or a carbon offset. It does not require DayGlo or £500 alloy wheels or attitude. Cycling is, as it should be, banal. Because it is safe.
Comparative cycling rates from Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany
She continues, pointing out that bikes really do make a difference:
The answer to so many intractable modern problems -- obesity, urban congestion, global warming -- is cycling. What now feels like an extreme sport should be the default mode of transport. But it has dawned on me only recently that the big fat flaw at the heart of democracy is that politicians will never invest in the long term if voters' initial inconvenience and expense are not rewarded with results before an election. And it will take years and billions to chip away at the cult of the car, to erect multistorey bicycle parks in every mainline station, to build genuinely super highways for bikes through our towns and reverse years of destructive urban planning.
Only when the fear is gone will big jessies stop riding on pavements, maniacs stop charging red lights, the streets be reclaimed from cars, and cycling from angry men with tiny bums.
More in the Times
Making bikes normal:
British Opposition Leader Criticized for Riding Without Helmet. Should He Be?
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Marks "End of Favoring Motorized Transportation"
Ray LaHood's Tabletop Speech at the National Bike Summit
Some Politicians Still Don't Think Bikes and Pedestrians Deserve Their Share