Perhaps it is merely a sign of the times, or maybe it is the beginning of a permanent shift in mindset. Whatever the long-term trend though, for the first time on record bicycle sales outpaced car sales in Spain, a country that has long embraced and loved the automobile. Could the same happen here?
Last year Spanish consumers bought only 700,000 new cars, versus 780,000 new bicycles, which represents a 30% drop for car sales but a 4% increase for bike sales. Higher taxes, lower wages, and an economy crippled by a more than 26% unemployment rate mean there are few buyers for high-priced, heavily-taxed vehicles.
Bicycles, however, are cheaper all the way around, and more Spaniards are riding bikes than ever. Unfortunately, there are very few bike-friendly cities in Spain, and many Spanish drivers don’t seem happy to be sharing the road with increasing numbers of bikers. Unfortunately, because of the crippled Spanish economy, there is no money to install bike lanes, meaning many riders must simply learn to live alongside motor vehicles for now. Some cities, like Barcelona, have installed bike-sharing systems, but the capital of Madrid has neither bike lanes nor bike sharing in place.
Bicycle riding and bike-sharing is a growing trend here in America too, but will bicycle sales ever outpace new car sales? That would be something, wouldn’t it?
Source: NPR | Image: CameliaTWU