two bikes
Mark Faviell

Europeans are not buying as many cars as they once did. They are buying bikes, though. A lot of bikes. In 2011, they bought 20 million bikes — nearly twice as many bikes as they bought cars.

The European Cyclists’ Federation explains exactly what that means:

In other words: for every car sold in Europe, almost 2 bicycles currently find a new customer. And these bikes are not just for decoration but they are used more and more: Germany saw a 50 % increase in cycling between 2002 and 2011; In the Netherlands, the success of e-bikes (pedelecs) contributed to an increase of 9 % in km cycled in just one year (from 2010 to 2011); Cycling in many capital cities doubled over the past decade, including in London and Dublin.

You can blame the economy. You can blame beautiful bike infrastructure. You can blame socialism. Whatever the reason, Europeans are figuring out how to make life work without cars. AND they’re more svelte, urbane, and culturally sophisticated than we are, for the most part. And their food is awesome. America, you have some catching up to do.