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Sexy Biking

Bike Sales Surpass Car Sales

Italians bought more bicycles than cars in 2011 for the first time in decades

In the midst of economic turmoil in Europe, more Italians are turning to bikes as their preferred mode of transportation. Such is the bicycle’s popularity in Italy that purchases of the pedal-powered two wheelers have eclipsed automotive sales for the first time since World War II.

Last year 1.75 million bikes were sold in Italy, compared to 1.748 million motor vehicles. So what’s behind the trend? Exciting bicycle commercials? A bold push into green living by the government? Citizens increasingly interested in their health? Sadly, the truth is darker: It’s about economics. With Italian unemployment now above 10% and high petrol prices, a people-powered two-wheeler suddenly looks a lot better than a gas-powered four-wheeler. The rise of bicycles and the decline of cars in Italy is not the wilful result of environmentalists, but rather, an alarming symptom of a diverging society.

While bikes are seeing a resurgence, automotive companies are feeling the pinch not only in Italy but throughout Europe. Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne is among those feeling the heat from this trend, admitting “Anyone operating in the automotive sector in Europe today is experiencing varying degrees of unhappiness. The European car market is a disaster.” Fiat released industry figures that showed September auto sales down 25 percent compared to the same period in 2011.

For all our wishes of a greener future where bicycles play a more important daily role in people’s lives than cars, personal poverty is not the way we’d like to see that aim achieved. Is there a different way? Car ownership became a symbol of the Italian economic miracle in the 1960s and has steadily grown since, but as unemployment rises and living costs soar, it has become an unaffordable luxury for many Italian families.

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