World Bicycle Production, 1950-2018

World Bicycle Production, 1950-2018

Source: Adapted from Worldwatch Institute, Vital Signs 2008.

There are no exact figures about the global bicycle fleet, but it is estimated that there are around 1 billion bicycles available. On average, 100 million bicycles are produced each year, compared to 70 million cars. About 40% of all bicycles were produced in China in the early 1990s, and by 2000 this share climbed to 60%, making it the world’s leading producer and consumer. Cycling thus accounted for a significant share of travel in Chinese cities. The motorization of Chinese cities has contributed to a significant drop in the modal share of cycling in recent years. From 1990 to 2002, the share of cycling in Shanghai went from 70% of all trips to 17%. In 2003, bicycles were banned from the major commercial streets, an indication of the government’s shift in policies.

Cycling is typically the mode of poorer segments of the population, especially in developing economies. However, many Western European countries, namely Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands, have experienced significant growth in bicycle ridership in recent years. In Japan, 30% of all trips to train stations are done cycling. The bicycle is increasingly perceived as a sustainable transportation mode, and many cities around the world have programs promoting the use of cycling for commuting and reserved bike lanes. Many cities are also offering short-term bike rental schemes through stations sited at convenient locations. A recent trend has been the introduction of e-bikes, which are electrically assisted bicycles. They expand commuting ranges by increasing speed and reducing effort.