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Is the Bicycle Becoming More Popular Than The Car?

The latest transport research carried out by respected US News Agency, NPR, has identified that in 26 of 28 European countries, including the UK, the humble bicycle is outselling the new car and we ask – is the bike really becoming more popular than the car?

It’s reasonable to assume that this change in transport buying habits is primarily a response to the global financial crisis, which has forced the majority of consumers to reduce living costs and spending on transport. However the rise in bike sales can also be accredited to government-led initiatives such as ‘Cycle scheme’, which forms part of the UK’s Green Transport Plan and makes cycling more affordable. The scheme, designed for British employees, reduces the cost price of a new bike by ‘up to 42%’ in various independent retailers across the UK, and with Britain ranking second only to Germany in terms of total new bike sales, it would appear at a first glance that these factors have indeed contributed to the bike becoming more popular than the car.

However, NPR’s research stops short of examining how many car drivers are also cyclists, and whether people are really switching to pedal-powered, as opposed to petrol-powered journeys in a bid to cut their costs or lead a healthier lifestyle.

A closer look at industry research shows that while the fall in sales of new cars is unquestionably problematic for the British motor industry, these figures don’t necessarily show that the car’s popularity is actually in decline. In fact, according to the latest research by British Car Auctions (BCA), Europe’s leading Vehicle Remarketing Company, the reality is quite the opposite. A report of their market findings released in September reveals that although the number of households that have access to a car has reduced by 5% over the last three years, the used car market is now making an excellent recovery from the financial crisis and is experiencing sales that exceed pre-recession levels and outperform the new car market by 6.4%.

Whether the bike is really more popular than the car remains to be seen, but we expect that if the UK continues to experience economic growth, and consumers begin to feel that growth in their pockets, drivers will return to car ownership and new car sales will increase. Maybe future research studies will explore car and bike ownership and produce some statistics on how many bikes are languishing in sheds, or how many car owners have purchased a bike rack to transport the family for a cycling day out. After all, why do we have to choose one or the other when we can have it all!

Have you invested in a new bike this year? Did you buy it to replace your car or just some of your journeys, or was it a purchase made for health or recreational purposes? Tell us about it in the comments, we love to hear your views!

January 25, 2014