Published on November 1st, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Bicycles Are Back, Are You Ready To Use One & Discard Your Car?
Once the pride of millions and the desire of even more millions, the bicycle has been forgotten by many in recent years. As recent as 10 years ago, Asia was the biggest consumer of bicycles. China, India, Cambodia and Vietnam had a big bicycle movement as most of the population could only afford self-propulsion. As economic changes swept thru China and India, the bicycle was discarded for motorized transport. Starting with the moped, then to the large scooter and then the car, the bicycle has now became a recreational product. Vietnam was close to follow as the economic boom in Vietnam hit the population hungry for the automobile and the scooter.
Today the humble bicycle has evolved into a high technology recreational product for developed nations. Europe and North America has embraced the bicycle and its virtues as a keep fit product. The outdoors has become sexy again and so the bicycle has had to evolve. They now have off-road bicycles (mountain bikes), track bicycles and lightweight long distance bicycles and even folding lightweight bicycles that will fit in a large backpack.
Catering to a higher income group, these bicycles are no longer cheap and cheerful. Some cost as much as a motorcycle and there are even some others that cost as much as a compact car.
Traditional bicycle manufacturers have had to reinvent their product line-up to cater for the changing market demands. New manufacturers have appeared with products that come with a high cost of research and development. In North America and Europe a whole new market has opened up and the bicycle producer has had to look at ever changing needs and moving forward with technology. This has made traditional bicycle manufacturers to reinvent themselves to greet the new market demands. Taiwan and China are still the biggest producers of bicycles. However North Americans are closing the gap fast as they innovate by using lightweight strong materials to provide very durable and exciting machines. Gearings have also increased on bicycles from the simple 3-speed up to 12-speed today.
The evolution of the bicycle is made even more obvious at International Motor Shows where besides concept and sexy cars, there are bicycles on display by car manufacturers and also individual bike producers. Not just as accessories but as serious transport products. Some cars manufacturers now have a bicycle line up in their portfolio with high technology fitments. Audi, Mercedes, Porsche and Peugeot have had bicycles in their product portfolio for the past few years. The ‘Smart’ car company also had a selection of bicycles at the show this year.
Environmentalists have promoted the bicycle against the use of cars in crowded urban cities to curb falling air quality and to solve parking and traffic issues. In Paris, Washington DC, Taipeh and Hangzhou China, the bicycle sharing program has been successful and is expanding its reach to many more cities.
Another option is the folding bike (small compact bicycle which folds away on 2 or 3 parts and is easy to carry on board a bus or mass transit train) is also gaining popularity in crowded cities for urban yuppies looking for easy movement in large urban cities like Japan, Shanghai, London and Paris. Some of these folding bicycles comes with a small battery power pack and can be charged overnight and used a powered electric scooter.
Japan has also seen a revival of the bicycle as a mode of inner/outer city and small town transport as costs of fuel gets higher. Tokyo has a large bicycle population just like London and Frankfurt. In Munich, bicycle rentals in the city are popular and bicycle trishaws have become popular as small taxis for the city center. So it looks like the world is taking a huge ‘U’ turn in urban transportation and the bicycle will see a big revival in the coming decade. It will reduce air pollution, reduce traffic issues, provide for a healthier population and increase productivity in the workplace.
Now that you know this, isn’t it time that you yourself got a bicycle and start riding like you did when you were a kid?