I have not looked enough at statistics to make this post a reliable source for exact figures. However, from my own eyes, I have seen many people in Sweden using their bikes as a mode of transport. No surprise there!
Practical bicycle seen by the coast in South Sweden
Indeed, I saw guys wearing their suit happily cycling to their office, elderly people using their 2 wheel mode of transport to do their daily food shopping and heavily pregnant ladies enjoying the freedom of carrying on doing sport in a moderate fashion.
Bicycle park outside of Danish Bank building in Copenhagen
There are accidents, for sure (my neighbour broke his back in winter as he cycled on an icy patch; I saw an elderly person falling off her bike...luckily it happened close to the hospital)..., but worse things can happen when you drive.
Your bicycle can also be your business premises as seen in Berlin
From reading on a bit on the internet about the benefits of cycling, I wonder why people are not instantly convinced it's the thing to do to ensure you are:
Healthier - It seems to reduce risks of heart disease, breast cancer, obesity...to name a few.
Safer - some experts think that if the amount of cycling doubles, the risks per cyclist falls by about at least 30% (source)
Wealthier - using a bicycle regularly is less costly than using a car. More cash in your wallet at the end of the month!
Less Pollution - by using less your car, you consequently use less petrol / diesel and pollute less the environment.
Studious bike park in Cambridge, England
So when I lived in Sweden, we managed to survive with 1 car, as we used the bicycle to go to work and the car for week-end trips or large shopping duties.
It's important to highlight that the infrastructure for cyclists is very present in northern Europe, as each public park, place, building, square...you name it... have bike parks. Making shopping a healthy activity. The bike lane map play an important role too in the decision making process of how you'll get to your destination.
A few options to choose from besides the car - in Sweden close to Gothenburg
Another factor that you will want to consider is the number of hills or descents you are likely to encounter on your journey from A to B. The latter is the obvious reason why cycling seems so popular in northern Europe, as the geographical low-relief allows you to gently cycle without having the impression you have just embarked on the Tour de France!
Keen cyclist in the old part of Copenhagen
After my recent move back to France, the lack of infrastructure for cyclists surprised me. Large cities have included cycling in their transport systems (city bike hiring and dropping stations, bike hooks on trains...).
My wish is for small communities to embrace cycling as a normal mode of transport and for Cycling (with a big C) to be at the forefront of the decision making process of the local politicians that make changes in their villages and towns. I know it takes time to change mentality and I hope to be part of this long process, as I really see the value of using your old or more recent bicycle on a regular basis.
Safe cyclist using a helmet, in Copenhagen! Unfortunately, a rare sight
If you have experiences or opinions on the subject...it would good to hear them. Happy riding!