I'm here in Graz, Austria and am very impressed. Beautiful architecture, beautiful parks, separate bike lanes (up on a curb, away from the street) and separate walking paths too. As I was walking through a gorgeous park filled with children's play structures, tasteful cafes and biergartens--and the park is a quick walk or bike ride from grocery stores, businesses and homes--I thought "yes, the Western Europeans do city planning like Apple computer." Talented, opinionated elites are designing for the masses. You pay a premium for high quality planning, city services, public transportation and publicly-financed buildings, but I think it is worth it. I see elderly people walking around along with all other ages and they're not stuck someplace, alone because they can no longer drive. I think the "PC" approach in America is lower taxes, allowing individualistic Americans to acquire large houses and bigger cars with much greater ease than over here. But when you have the chance to walk and bike all over with your family, hike up onto a beautiful hill to see the city and enjoy gelato and a bier for papa in the garten while talking with your extended family/friends, the Euros are definitely on the right track. Simply getting out of the house and walking around is very important for enjoying life with others.
Also, I forget which survey, but a recent international quality of life survey put the top 30 livable cities in Western Europe and Canada. From what I've seen I agree.