Bicycles Outselling Cars In Italy

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
Italy once had one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world, with 60 cars for every 100 people. But in 2011, bicycles outsold cars for the first time in decades.With gas hovering around $9.60/gallon and exorbitant taxes and registration fees, Italians are apparently doing away with their second cars and dusting off their bicycles. According to The Telegraph, car sales were down 20 percent year-over-year, as Italians cut back on groceries and other necessities, in addition to big ticket items like cars. Does this mean a big push for Peugeot in Italy now? Maybe PSA can keep their Aulnay plant open thanks to strong demand from the Italian market.
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  • Chicago Dude Chicago Dude on Oct 03, 2012

    Bicycles have outsold cars in the USA for the last few years. Probably this year too.

  • Acuraandy Acuraandy on Oct 03, 2012

    As a former BMX bike racer, and staunch car advocate, this saddens me. $9.60/gal for gas? Hell, i'd ride my bike the 15 miles to work instead of paying that insane amount. Granted, Italy is a lot more densely populated than NA, but still. Almost $10/gal is COMPLETELY INSANE. This is an unintended consequence of printing money that is backed by no hard asset (such as, gold). Might as well be spending Monopoly money now, the US$ and Euro are worth less and less every single day. That said, who will bail out the US and Europe when it all finally comes to a head? Mars? I can see the headline now: 'Martians approve $100t bailout for Earth in exchange for what is left of their brains'

    • See 5 previous
    • Neb Neb on Oct 05, 2012

      @Neb Let's start with a point you brushed by in your rush to get straight to the gold-buggary: Italy having high gas prices. You are aware that Italy (along with the rest of Europe, euro or not) uses taxes to keep gas prices high, right? To keep people from getting burned when prices spike? The 2008 speculation spike caused lots of economic pain in the USA...but none/very little in Europe. See, what both you and Andy did was see "gas costs a lot" and then made the immediate (unwarranted) leap that this was somehow a sign of the corruption of fiat currency. It's not so much a detour in the conversation (IE Bikes becoming more popular in Italy, a country notable for liking its cars) as the conversation leaving the road airborne and flying well into the trees: a total free-association failure between the two subjects. That was my first point. Since we're in the trees now, anyway...let's talk about this gold thing. First: deflation. Credit where it's due: you know what deflation is and give a reason to prefer it. That said, I have no idea *why* you'd prefer it. You do realize that a major component of the economic pain of the great depression was deflation, right? Money appreciated in value, so people who had it held on to it rather then spending, thus decreasing demand still further, thus causing lower prices (and more deflation)? Your 3% deflation increased your purchasing power...and you now have no money, because now you are now unemployed and living in the local hobo jungle. (This is why BTW every sane central bank ever has always aimed to keep inflation on the positive side. The Illuminati has very little to do with it.) You also make a fair point about spiraling deflation and hyper inflation both being bad. (I'm taking from that you mean that with a percentage of a currency backed by gold, governments would be restrained from spending too much.) Unfortunately, history tells us this is not true. Nixon ended the gold standard because the USA spent too much on the Vietnam war, and governments were beginning to request payments in gold instead of dollars. So, as a check on government spending, it doesn't work. As for the dollar being worth 17% of what it was in 1917, let me ask you: how did you communicate this to me? You used some sort of computing device? They had those in 1917, right? How about a stable electric grid that services even remote rural areas? No? Do you have a vehicle? Is it built to a 1917 standard? Assuming progress keeps marching forward, some inflation is *natural*. Production gets cheaper, products get better, people become more productive and educated. MORE MONEY IS MADE THAN BEFORE. And as a consequence, inflation.

  • Volt 230 Volt 230 on Oct 04, 2012

    Chinese go from bikes to cars, Western countries go the other way, I'm sorry, who did you say won the cold war? History books will have to be rewritten.

    • Sfay3 Sfay3 on Oct 04, 2012

      What does the Cold War have to do with cars? There isn't going to be enough energy for everyone in China to have a car. And honestly, what's so bad about riding a bicycle?

  • Silverkris Silverkris on Oct 06, 2012

    "According to wiki, more than 30% of Italian males over age 30 live in homes owned by their parents." This is more of a cultural phenomenon than one driven by economics -many if not most of these Italian "mama's boys" have very good jobs and income, drive nice cars and otherwise can afford their own flats. It's just that a lot of these families have very close and strong family ties.

    • Ranwhenparked Ranwhenparked on Oct 07, 2012

      That's actually quite true. In some countries, it's still common for people to live at home until they're married. I think the idea behind it is that you're still considered part of your "birth" family until marriage, which marks the start of a brand-new family (and you presumably move into a new house paid for with money you saved by living at home all those years). The practice largely died out in the US after WWII (if not earlier), but still happens in other places. In America, I would guess that it was probably more common with women than with men, but in other countries, it seems to be more equal.