Some myths just get repeated again and again and again.
I just read a comment under David Arditti's excellent post "Some more thoughts on Dutch cycling" (please read it) that said "This should be considered in the context of just what a congested country the Netherlands is: a population of 18m crammed into an area the size of Wales, if that, so population per square km is much higher than ours, and even in rural areas you can expect to pass a house every couple of hundred metres and a village every km."
This is an emotive way of putting an argument, using Wales as an example because it's generally thought of as a relatively sparsely populated part of the United Kingdom. However, it's also highly inaccurate because he's exaggerated the population of the Netherlands by more than a million people, and is suggesting that Wales is the same size when actually is only half the size of the Netherlands (20779 km2 vs. 41848 km2).
Guessing at things like this is rather pointless when real figures worth comparing are remarkably easy to find in Wikipedia. England makes an interesting comparison with the Netherlands because as it turns out, the population density of England is 395 people per square km while that of the Netherlands is 403 people per square km. i.e. the densities of these two countries are very nearly exactly the same. What has been achieved in the Netherlands could also be achieved in England if British people want it enough.
What's more, the population density even of Wales, at 140 per square km, is not that much lower than the population density of Drenthe, where we live, which has 183 per square km.
Americans use this excuse even more often than the British, but as I wrote about that before, I won't bother to repeat myself. When considering any of this, bear in mind that US cities are some of the most densely populated in the world, and that population density of cities have no correlations at all with their cycling rates.
Note also that Dutch commutes are the longest in Europe.
Another article which I recommend highly this week is Dutch Pick and Mix. More about Britain on Monday...
For the benefit of a blogger with a comprehension problem who misunderstood this post when he linked to it, nowhere above do I imply that Wales is merely a province. Wales is, of course, a country in its own right.