Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bicycle Sales Up Worldwide

Forbes has an article (reabable here) about the booming sales of bicycles worldwide. Some snippets:
Rising petrol prices, growing awareness of environmental issues and the popularity of cycling as a recreation sport has fuelled a surge in demand for bicycles around the world...

Bicycle sales have over the past five years increased by 14.6 percent among European Union nations, which buy 70 percent of the world's bikes, according to Bike Europe. In the United States, sales have increased by almost 9 percent in the same time period...

Europeans increasingly pedal to work on bike-friendly streets planned by city governments that encourage cycling, while a growing pool of commuters in China use battery bikes and Americans ride mainly for sport or to work off calories...

Would-be riders in newly developed regions such as Taiwan still see bikes as a symbol of a poor past, while riders complain worldwide of inclement weather, unsafe traffic and rampant theft despite the best locks.

That's an interesting point about the poor past in the last bit I cite above. I have read that in bicycle-friendly Amsterdam, one of the challenges is getting immigrant communities, especially Muslim ones, to adopt bicycling. It's not part of the cultural background for many in these communities, and, in an echo of late 19th-century America, the freedom bicycles allow women is discomforting to the traditional social structure.

Another interesting bit that addresses a market hardly even breathing in the U.S.:
Giant also manufactures battery powered bikes which are popular in China where the company operates three factories. Battery-powered bikes are a big hit as China's economic boom puts money in the pockets of even the poorest factory workers who almost immediately upgrade their bikes.

Chinese consumers snapped up more than 20 million battery powered bikes in 2006. The bikes, powered by a 36 or 48 volt battery can travel at around 25-km an hour. They sell for around 3000 yuan ($430) a unit.

Now, 25-km an hour is only about 16 mph, but that's still a useful speed, faster than my usual cruising in-town, and gets rid of some of the sweatiness that inhibits many people from commuting. Maybe this will become a market in this country as well.

1 comment:

prolix said...

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