Here is a contentious idea, that will need further research, but I shall nonetheless commit it to you, my most learned interlocutors, at this nebulous stage.
Milan and Ravenna are Catholic, and have lots of bikes. Not as many as Holland does though! The difference? Calvinism. In the 1600s the Italians were gathering in Baroque churches, while the Dutch met in austere ones. Moreover, Catholicism only demands of its followers that they take communion and confess all their sins—quite a lengthy task for some Italians, right Silvio? By contrast, Calvin preached predestination. Ones ability to live a disciplined life was taken as evidence that they had been chosen of god, even before they were born.
From left: Dutch cyclists taking zee nature. Italian cyclist taking a drag. Map of Calvinist and Catholic regions.
Now that environmentalism is the new religion, the Italian looks at his car and his bike, and says, "frig it, I’ll drive. I just have to go to confession." Someone from Holland says, "No, riding my bike is evidence that I’m made of good stuff." I could write more, but you get my drift.
Some Calvinist churches.
And through a mammoth leap of logic, I would like to conclude by saying the architecture of cycling should likewise be austere, not Baroque. (A fate worse than death, I would suggest).