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Italians Turn from Horse to Pedal Power

Sales of bicycles in Italy exceeded those of cars in 2011 during which 1,750,000 bikes were sold compared to 1,748,143 cars.

Rocketing fuel prices and congestion charge systems may be to blame for what may be the beginning of the end of the Italian love affair with four wheels.  Finding car parking spots in Italy’s major cities may have something to do with it as well.  Then there is the eye-watering cost of car insurance.

Four wheels cost lots more to buy and to run than two wheels.  In times of crisis, instead of shelling out €20,000 for a car, Italians opting to spending €200 on a bike, and saving themselves boat loads of cash in the process.

Italy’s environment will be thankful too, as bikes cause no pollution.  They are also much quieter.

I get around Milan by bike
My Olmo – I get around Milan by bike

Yes, bikes are green whereas cars are not.  Yes, I am a cycling fan – that’s my bike in the photo.

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For Italians living in big cities, bicycles make a lot of sense, at least during Italy’s spring, summer and autumn.  Move further south in Italy and bikes can be used more or less all year round.

When transport for the whole family is needed, there is the train or the plane, and, if a car becomes really necessary, it can be shared or rented.

While bikes are sufficient for the majority of trips for city dwellers, those who live in the midst of Italy’s countryside or on the side of Italy’s many mountains will have to stick with four wheels for the moment.

Many people do not really need cars.  Indeed, many cars here in Milan seem to spend most of the day lining local pavements and not being used for getting around.  Even when they are, trips in town are generally very short.

Maybe cars should be banned from cities totally, or as near as is possible.  Turning from horse to pedal power has a lot of advantages – for city dwellers.

More reading in Italian: La vendita di bici supera quella di auto in Italia

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