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The distance the average Dutch person bicycles every day has increased by nearly 10 percent in the past five years. This in a nation already renowned for its love of bikes, says the Environmental News Network in an AP story. Holland's Central Bureau for Statistics, accounting for every woman, man, and child in the country, reports the Dutch rode an average of 1.5 miles per person per day in 2006, more than 8.7 billion miles in all. The Dutch Biker's Union says increased bike usage is tied to increased traffic congestion around cities and the difficulty of finding parking places in city centers. The trend also reflects the growing popularity of bakfiets, bicycles with sturdy wooden boxes on the front capable of carrying loads of groceries or children up to 175 pounds. The Dutch are apparently also slimmer and healthier than Euro-neighbors thanks to their bike miles. JULIA WHITTY