FEATURES » Bicycles more popular than cars in Italy!

Bicycles more popular than cars in Italy!


In the last year, the sales of bicycles in Italy has surpassed for the first time, since World War II those of cars.

This is what the newspaper Repubblica recently reported, analysing bicycles sales and car sales during the last year.

Italy is not alone in this collapse of car sales because as “Today” highlights during the first eight months of 2012 the car sale market has been negatively affected in France, Germany and Spain as well.

Only the UK seems immune to the crisis with a 3.3 per cent year after year rise in new car registrations while the EU-wide figure of the car market got down to 7.1 per cent in the same period.

But let’s get back to Italy. Why do Italians suddenly love bikes?

The austerity measures introduced by Mario Monti’s government are really making Italians tighten their belts. Moreover, the price of petrol has reached the record price of almost 2 Euros per litre.

Every family spends about one third of their income on car maintenance expenses.

Public transport is not very developed in Italy, especially if compared to the rest of Europe. The proportion between public and private transport in Rome is 28 to 72, while in London is 50.1 to 49.9; in Paris is 63.6 to 36.4 and in Berlin is 66 to 34; while in Barcelona is 67 to 32.

Apart from the economical reasons there are also some ecological motivations that encourage Italians to go to work or spend their free time on the bicycle.

On the 5th and 6th of October a meeting on the general state of bicycle mobility in Italy, the “Stati generali della bicilcetta” was held in Reggio Emilia and focused on promoting the bicycle as an effective way of getting around Italian cities. Reggio Emilia has been chosen because it’s the city in Italy most suitable for bikes. Among the main points raised in the meeting were those to create interchanges between bicycles and public transports; changes to the highway code and other related legislation; traffic calming measures; national policies, investments, incentives / disincentives; training, information and communication with the aim of raising public awareness on the sustainable transport issue and cycling networks.

Giulia Lombardo

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