Despite renewed enthusiasm for cycling in Europe and North America, global bike ownership dropped by almost half since 1989

Global bike ownership dropped by almost half in the last 30 years, according to pioneering new research published by the Journal of Transport and Health.

The study, Tracking global bicycle ownership patterns, found that 42% of global households owned at least one bicycle, with at least 580 million bicycle in private household ownership, having studied data from 1.25 billion households across 150 countries between 1971 and 2012.

While bicycle availability per household remained fairly steady, calculated at 42% worldwide in 2012, the researchers based at John Hopkins University calculated that, without China and India – which accounted for almost a quarter of the data analysed in the study – household bicycle ownership in the remaining 148 countries fell from 60% in 1989 to 32% in 2012.

Across the time period covered by the study, bike ownership figures in China showed wild fluctuations, with more than 97% of households owning a bicycle in 1992, before the figure dropped to 48.7% in 2007, rising again to 63.2% in 2009.

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The study notes that, while car ownership and activity is tracked and reviewed by a variety of agencies, bicycles “have never been systematically counted and presented in the peer-reviewed literature.”

Olufolajimi Oke, lead author of the study, said: “Everyone is focused on what’s happening now, but looking to the past can really help policy makers – it can show them what worked and what didn’t and give them ideas.”

“By pulling together and analyzing many sources of data, we have produced a database that we hope will give policy makers the information they need to take action.”

  • Le Belge

    Ouch. I hope you are not injured.

  • Seb K

    Bikes were big news back then I guess and now they are making a comeback . Lets keep it that way this time .

  • Nigel Rue

    Well I’m doing my best to increase figures by having 5 bikes. It should have been 6 but a woman took a dislike to one of them and drove over it. Unfortunately I was on it at the time.

  • ummm…

    i thought so as well. In western countries the number is surely rising. didnt read the article so i dunno if it was addressed

  • ridein

    It is hard to believe there are fewer bikes with population growth, but just look at how many people in China and India are transitioning to car ownership.

  • blemcooper

    We all know what the problem is–some of us, you know who you are, myself included, have been hoarding all the good bikes!