In Europe, Bicycles Outsell Cars

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Many Europeans would rather use bike pedals than a gas pedal. Can you imagine that happening in America? As it turns out, it's true here as well.

For a growing number of Europeans, two wheels are better than four.

Nearly every country in the European Union sold more bikes than cars last year, NPR says. It happened in at least 23 countries out of 28, and possibly more — car numbers for Cyprus and Malta weren’t available, so they were excluded.

Car sales hit a 20-year low this year.

It’s true even in the countries that seriously love cars. Bicycles outsold cars for the first time ever in Spain last year, and for Italy it was the first time since World War II, NPR says.

In some countries it’s not that unexpected. In cities like Amsterdam, the streets are designed to be bike-friendly, Mother Nature Network says. They’re one-way, speed limits are low, bike lanes are large and protected, and public transport is an efficient alternative to driving. In Denmark, there are highways specifically for bikers, NPR says.

But elsewhere, the numbers do surprise a bit. In the home of the Volkswagen, nearly 4 million bikes were sold last year — almost 900,000 more than cars. Britain sold 3.6 million bikes — Freddie Mercury would approve — but only 57 percent as many cars, according to NPR’s figures.

Lithuania sold 9.5 bikes for every car. Greece, Romania, and Slovenia sold 5 bikes per car.

How does the U.S. stack up? Believe it or not, it’s actually true here, too — though we probably don’t use them as much as Europeans. We sold 14.5 million new cars and trucks last year, The New York Times says. And we sold 18.7 million bikes, according to the National Bike Dealers Association.

Is your city bike-friendly? Would you bike more if it were? Comment below or on our Facebook page.

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