World bicycle ownership going downhill

cycBicycle ownership around the world is declining amid rising wealth levels and increased use of motorised vehicles in developing countries, a study has found. Four out of ten households on the planet own a bike, according to a paper based on surveys from 150 countries between 1989 and 2012. But the growing popularity and affordability of motorised transport, such as cars and scooters, “have disfavoured bicycle use”, the researchers say.

The paper, published in the Journal of Transport & Health last December, found that bicycle ownership is most common in developed countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands, where around four-fifths of households have at least one bike. But in West, Central and North African countries, bicycles are more uncommon, with less than a fifth of households owning one, the study says. While motor vehicles are often well documented, this study is the first to gather global data on bicycle ownership, the researchers say. Understanding bike numbers could help governments in developing countries devise bicycle-friendly policies that promote better health, less congested cities, safer roads and cleaner air, they add.

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