Strapped Europeans Swap Cars For Bikes

  • Share
  • Read Later
Marc Hill / Bloomberg via Getty Images

A cyclist carries her shopping in the basket of her bicycle in Pescara, Italy, on July 13, 2011

Italy is home to Ferrari and Lamborghini, two of the world’s most legendary automakers. But the country’s troubled economy has forced an increasing number of Italians to downside the number of wheels on their vehicles: For the first time since World War II, sales of bicycles surpassed those of cars in Italy. 

U.K. newspaper the Telegraph reports, “1,750,000 bikes were bought in 2011 compared to 1,748,000 motor vehicles.” This is a big switch for a country that the Economist reported in 2009 had the fourth-highest rate of car ownership rates in the world. (Despite our love affair with cars, the United States came in 16th in the magazine’s ranking by country.)

The Telegraph blames rising unemployment, austerity cuts imposed by E.U. leadership, and an increased cost of living — including a rise in the price of gas. It says gasoline costs about €2 per liter — in American terms, that’s close to $10 a gallon. This is why a little more than 10% of Italians now rely on pedal power to get to school or work, while more than one in six use their bikes to get around other times, such as on weekends.

(MORE: Fighting the High Cost of Fuel — with My Feet!)

Italy isn’t the only cash-strapped European country to swap four wheels for two. In August, Reuters reported that Greeks also are turning from cars to bicycles as the country struggles to adapt to austerity measures and unemployment that has risen above 55% among people under 25. The number of cars being driven plummeted by 40%, while bike sales have risen about 25%.

The silver lining is that some entrepreneurial Greeks have seen opportunity in this cultural shift. “Shops selling bicycles, and equipment ranging from helmets to knee pads, are spreading fast,” Reuters says.

(MORE: Coming Soon? Airline Tickets That Cost Extra After You Purchase Them)

Even in some parts of the U.S., bike ridership is on the rise, albeit not quite as dramatically. Portland, Oregon, saw a 6.4% increase year-over-year, while 3.5% of Minneapolis residents brave that city’s cold winters to ride to work — a number government officials say will double in two years.

12 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Raymond Chuang
Raymond Chuang

You could pull that off in Europe, where public transportation is generally very good. But one BIG problem: how are you going to get a bicycle on a bus, trolley, subway or commuter train? Watch for sales of folding bicycles to go through the roof.

Vivian Clark
Vivian Clark

In the Netherlands, bike has always been the vehicle preferred by citizens, this trend is growing in other countries.  I don't agree that everything has to do with the crisis.

Raymond Chuang
Raymond Chuang

Well, having generally flat terrain in the majority of the Netherlands makes it very viable to use a bicycle for commuting, not to mention the relatively small size of many Dutch urban areas.

MichaelHart
MichaelHart

Philip implied I'm stunned that a mom can make $6649 in 1 month on the network. have you look this(Click on menu Home)   

YoungMacKid
YoungMacKid

If you in an environment where the whether is pleasant most of the year (versus three to four months of 30 below with piles of snow, or dry heat at a 120 degrees, or worse 90 degree heat with 100 % humidity) why would you not want to bike?

Bijdehans
Bijdehans

In Holland the weather isn't nice but bicycle use is the highest per capita so what's your point exactly?

deedl
deedl

Right, same is true for Denmark. Copenhagen is full of bikes and has nice broad bicyclelanes.

Firozali A.Mulla
Firozali A.Mulla

U.S. private employers added 162,000 jobs in

September, topping economists' expectations, a report by a payroll processor

showed on Wednesday, although a revision of the previous month's figures eroded

the positive outcome. "Gold has certainly got a bit of spring in its

step at the end of the summer break. There is good physical buying coming

through and central bank buying is firm so the market will support it,"

said Ross Norman, chief executive at gold-broking firm Sharps

Pixley. The dollar was broadly

firmer against a basket of major currencies. A stronger greenback usually

weighs on commodities priced in dollars, yet gold held near its highest levels

for the year. We are not on

the gold standard but all we do is measure our economy on Gold and other

minerals and that surprises me as we also have futures on the sugar, rice and

many commodities but why do we keep on harping on the gold. President Obama’s solutions

to economic problems invariably involve more spending, but 86 percent of

likely  say that government spending has not helped them, according to a

new poll. “On the question of whether federal government spending has improved

the overall economy, 74 percent say it has not helped, with 52 percent

responding that it has actually hurt the economy,” The Public Notice announced

yesterday after questioning 1,005 likely voters.  “When asked how federal

government spending has impacted personal financial situations, 86 percent of

those surveyed say it has not helped, with 35 percent responding that it hurt.” May be some one will explain this to me in

simple economic terms

 I thank you Firozali A.Mulla DBA