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Italy's Bike Purchases Outstrip Car Sales

Italians purchased more bikes than cars last year – the first time that's happened since World War II. This 2012 article is from the Christian Science Monitor, October 3.

by Nick Squires

The chaos, congestion, and cobblestones can make cycling in Italy a nerve-shattering affair.

But crazy drivers, swerving scooters, and gigantic potholes have not stopped a renaissance in cycling, as the economic crisis forces Italians to tighten their belts.

For the first time since the end of World War II, the number of bicycles sold in Italy has overtaken the number of cars; 1,750,000 bikes were bought last year, compared to 1,748,000 motor vehicles.

Italy has one of the highest car ownership levels in the world -– there are around six cars for every 10 people.

Driving is now an unaffordable luxury for many. Gas prices recently hit two euros a liter ($9.50 a gallon) -– the highest in Europe -– and keeping the average car on the road costs around 7,000 euros ($9,000) a year.

Families are ditching their second cars, signing up to car pool schemes, and buying bicycles. Branches of Decathlon, an outdoor pursuits megastore often found on the periphery of big cities, are packed each weekend with people choosing between sturdy mountain bikes, sleek hybrids or, for commuters, collapsible two-wheelers.

Despite the dangers on the road, cycling is cheap and convenient. In central Rome, a journey of a couple of miles is often quicker by bike than in a taxi or on a scooter.

In addition to new purchases, Italians have also hauled around 200,000 rusty old bikes from their cellars and garages and restored them to roadworthiness.

As bike sales boom, the car industry is going through its worst crisis for decades – in September, sales of new automobiles were down 25 percent compared with the same period in 2011.

To read more

JJS: You've heard of "reap as you sow". Just as fair is the converse, to pay for what you take. If cars -- actually, car drivers -- had to pay for the costs that their driving imposes, then they'd probably decide to do a lot less driving. Imagine drivers paying for everything from the harm from their exhaust to the land beneath the roads. If driving paid its way, then people would do a lot more riding.

Pay for what you take, not what you make, is the moral underpinning of the geonomic tax policy. One aspect of that tax policy is the land tax, to charge people for displacing others from land. Wherever the land tax has been tried, it has worked.

So, if you're a cyclist, you might also want to be a geonomist.

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Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

In Bike-Friendly Copenhagen, Highways For Cyclists
http://www.progress.org/2012/copenhag.htm

You got oil, you get what you want
http://www.progress.org/2012/tieroute.htm

Natures enriches some and suffers from us all
http://www.progress.org/2011/cyclists.htm

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