Despite the recent increase in popularity of bicycling as a mode of urban transportation, American cycling is still predominantly viewed as a kind of sport. Consequently, the vast majority of bikes you see here are either mountain bikes (for mountains), road bikes (for racing), or hybrid bikes (a blend of the two). In Europe, by contrast, it’s more common to see bikes that are specifically designed for use as urban commuter vehicles. Seth Stevenson explains the basic elements of the urban bike:
1) Upright posture. You sit with your back perpendicular to the ground instead of hunched forward over the handlebars. It’s a far more comfortable and relaxed position. Because your head is up high, it’s easier to see over car roofs in traffic. It’s also easier for the cars to see you.
2) Fenders. These semicircular arcs hover just above the tops of the bike’s tires. They prevent any up-splash when you ride through puddles and also lend the bike a rather dignified appearance.
3) Fully covered chains. Greasy metal links are hidden far out of sight, behind a chain case, meaning you can ride to work in a suit without schmutzing your trouser cuffs.
He then goes on to discuss several different brands of actual Dutch bicycles. But they’re all very expensive. I paid much less money than that for a “Dutch-style” American bike, the Jamis Commuter 3.0. I’ve never actually owned any other bike, but I like it quite a lot and it definitely delivers on the main virtues of European-style cycling—less speed, more comfort and convenience—something to use to get around town faster than you could on foot, but not actually race with.