National Public Radio has reported that the number of bicycles is outselling cars in almost all of european countries, with countries such as Italy seeing new bicycle sales outpacing new car sales for the first time since World War II. The greatest disparity where cars simply could not compare with bicycles occurred in Lithuania, Greece, Romania, Slovenia, and Hungary. Many countries however show numbers that are relatively close, with bicycles pulling a head only slightly. This includes the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy and France.
In many areas of Europe, car sales have been sluggish, but some data does suggest a recovery. That recovery might tip the scales in favor of the automobile in countries such as Spain where bicycle sales and automobile sales were very similar. That is of course if they can convince the younger generations to get on board with car purchasing despite the numbers that show millenials are buying fewer cars, driving fewer miles, and putting off getting a drivers license (assuming they ever do).
From across the pond, the Euro car market looks somewhat ridiculous. When we see headlines that proclaim that the Tesla S is the best selling car in Norway, we start to wonder how close things actually are in the United States to what happens over there.
But in the United States, there have only been a few years in the past 20 where automobile sales have surpasses bicycle sales as the char below shows.
We can see that even in 1992, bicycles outsold new cars and trucks (it is worth noting that this includes car and truck passenger vehicles. Motorcycles are not included but their figures can be anticipated at each year at less than 500,000 unites sold and as such do not create a substantial gap closure in most years on the chart). In fact, the recession saw a large drop in both bicycle and car sales in 2008. Despite this, bicycles recovered much more quickly and saw in 2010 a disparity of almost 8 million more bicycles sold in the United States than cars.
Considering the number of european countries who have invested and will be investing more in infrastructure for both cycling and public transit, we can expect the european disparities to increase, favoring the bicycle over time. Most American cities have been slow to adopt dedicated bike lanes and other transit policies that favor modes of transportation other than the automobile, yet despite this we can see that the free market has clearly spoken: cars and trucks have not outsold bicycles in the United States for over 10 years and that shows no sign of changing.