By on October 3, 2012

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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21 Comments on “Bicycles Outselling Cars In Italy...”

  • avatar

    Don’t forget austerity measures that deepen the Italian recession. Any purchase that costs money to maintain is going to be thought twice about.

  • avatar

    With central banks pumping multi-colored toilet paper…err fiat money by the quadrillion-load the world over, in order to continue flooding the banking/financial sector with no-cost capital so as to try and save them from their toxic balance sheet unwinding endeavors, and essential robbing taxpayers and starving genuinely non-subsidized private businesses…

    …the future is here (and showing up first in places like Italy & Spain).

  • avatar

    For edification on my response, see “How Cronyism is Hurting the Economy” & “The Story of Broke” — two short videos by LearnLiberty.Org

  • avatar

    This is just silly. You can’t stuff a body in a bicycle pannier, don’t they know that?

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

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

  • avatar

    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’…

    • 0 avatar

      Paul Krugman is sort of rooting for Martian Hostile Invaders (he thinks the economy would benefit from a fake alien invasion):

      • 0 avatar


        Paul Krugman is nuts. Just sayin’.


        ‘No, it isn’t. The price of fuel has nothing to do with having a currency pegged to an element you can scrabble out of the ground.

        Never mind that several nations have had meltdowns and currency fluctuations even with a gold standard…’

        A fair and correct point, but…so the first world is supposed to simply accept what the US$, Can$, Euro, UK Pound, et. al. is ‘worth’ because the US Federal Reserve says it’s ‘worth’ X amount? Please.


        ‘When you learn what ‘spiraling deflation’ is you will know why gold-backed currencies went extinct.’ I am fully aware of what spiraling deflation is and am just as afraid of that as hyper-inflation (that is beginning NOW).

        My point was, and was probably lost in type, that $9.60/gal gas in Italy, when coupled with rising costs of food, housing, well everything, and with wages not going up to account for such, well here’s your sign. People buy bikes because they can’t afford gas or don’t want the perceived ‘burden’ of car ownership. Or, in Italy’s case, they simply buy a Vespa.

        According to wiki, more than 30% of Italian males over age 30 live in homes owned by their parents. The Family Guy bit with Quagmire’s illegitimate Italian son comes to mind…

    • 0 avatar

      “This is an unintended consequence of printing money that is backed by no hard asset”

      No, it isn’t. The price of fuel has nothing to do with having a currency pegged to an element you can scrabble out of the ground.

      Never mind that several nations have had meltdowns and currency fluctuations even with a gold standard…

    • 0 avatar

      The link between Italy having high gas prices and obsolete currency ideas completely escapes me.

      PS When you learn what ‘spiraling deflation’ is you will know why gold-backed currencies went extinct.

      • 0 avatar

        Excuse my vernacular, but WTF are you talking about?

        Italy’s fiat currency is the same as Germany’s & France’s, is it not?

        And score one for the propaganda of the neo-Keynesians, who who have successfully planted the notion amongst institutional academia that the most perilous form of “flation” is the “de” kind.

        Some rather intelligence people would beg to differ with you about whether or not deflation is the peril it’s promoted as (of course, you did preface your comment with “spiraling”…).

        Between 3% deflation and 3% inflation, and especially in a world where wages aren’t quite as sticky as the Krugman’s of the world claim they are (global pool of labor & all that), I’ll take the 3% deflation each and every time, and let the bulk of the population improve their purchasing power, thank you very much.

        As between “spiraling” deflation and “skyrocketing” inflation, they both lead to the same, perilous economic outcome.

        Finally, and just in a passing remark, one has to hand it to the Federal Reserve, staying vigilant on the “price stabiliteeee” portion of its ‘dual mandate.’ It’s managed to oversee a 97% debasement of the U.S. dollar since it was formally established by Congress in 1913.

      • 0 avatar

        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.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      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?

  • avatar

    “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.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

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