For the First Time Since WWII, Bikes Outsell Cars in Europe

The big flip in transportation coincides with a big dip in household wealth

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Marc Hill / Bloomberg via Getty Images

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

Car sales across Europe may have hit a 20-year low, but bike sales are going strong. So strong, in fact, that bikes have outsold cars in nearly every member country of the European Union, according to a surprising set of graphs from NPR.

In Italy, bikes outsold cars for the first time since World War II and in Spain for the first time ever. The flip coincides with Europe’s economic crisis, which wreaked havoc on household budgets and suppressed demand for big ticket purchases. If the trend toward bikes continues, the term “lean times” may take on a much more literal meaning.