Global bicycle ownership rates see big downturn

According to new research, the number of households that own a bicycle is decreasing drastically across the globe, with 148 countries showing an average decline of 50% over a few decades. This comes at a time when climate change concerns and sustainability efforts are at an all time high; cycling is one of the most sustainable forms of transportation, but one that many people far and wide are turning away from. A total of 1.25 billion households were looked at over the course of the study, and ownership was split into four groups.

The research comes from John Hopkins University where a team set out to find where bicycle ownership is greatest, enabling regulators to figure out what policies may have been beneficial in increasing cycling adoption. In some cases, certain countries have seen the rate of cycling increase, while others have stagnated. On the lower end of things, some countries have shown a rapid decrease in the number of bicycles owned, the reasons for which are varied.

Globally speaking, 42-percent of homes have at least one bicycle, with parts of Europe rating the highest; central Asia and select regions in Africa have the lowest ownership rates. The overall number of bicycle ownership is highest in China and India, with China in particular seeing very big changes, and not in a good way. According to the study, more than 97-percent of Chinese homes owned a bicycle in 1992, but as of 2009 the number sat at 63.2-percent (a slight increase over 2007's 48.7-percent).

The analyzed data spans from 1989 to 2012. When looking at the figures minus India and China, both of which heavily influence the percentages, global bicycle ownership dropped from 60-percent on average to 32-percent on average over the aforementioned time range.

The researchers did find patterns, though, when looking at the numbers. One big factor influencing bicycle ownership rates was nearby countries — similar cultures and neighboring regions are more likely to have similar cycling rates. Ultimately, countries were spit into four groups, with the top group having the highest bicycle ownership rates at 81-percent, and the lowest coming in at only 20-percent.

SOURCE: EurekAlert