For the first time on record, bicycles have outsold cars in Spain.
“Last year, 780,000 bicycles were sold in the country — compared to 700,000 cars. That’s due to a 4 percent jump in bike sales, and a 30 percent drop in sales of new cars,” reported NPR today.
Part of the reason Spaniards are getting back on bicycles despite dangerous roads and their love of motor vehicles, is the cost of driving which has become a liability in Spain’s down economy.
One group of cycling activists will come to your home and ride with you to work when you go the first time. Said Pablo Leon, one of the group, people can’t believe how easy it is to ride to work, and why didn’t they do this before?
And there’s more, Madrid has its own form of Critical Mass, Bici Critica, and they don’t get stopped by police officers.
“People are fed up to wait for the City Council to make bike lanes. Because when they had the money, they didn’t do it,” says Iván Villarrubia, a 36-year-old urban planner and self-styled bike activist. “And now that they want to do it, they don’t have the money.”
“Villarrubia believes newcomers to biking should learn to share the road with cars, rather than wait for City Hall to build bike lanes. So far there are only a handful in the capital. “Long-term, to know how to share, to yield, to slow down — that’s the correct solution.”
“It was not a bike-friendly city. So for that, cycling in Madrid makes you an activist,” said Pablo Leon, 33, who writes a blog called “I Love Bicis.” “But I think one day in the future, people who use bikes are not going to be activists anymore. They’re going to be just citizens, who ride bikes.”
The print story is here, the audio will be available at noon Sunday.