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Dutch bicycle-owners lead worldwide bike density

Nearly everyone owns one

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

AMSTERDAM - There are well over 16 million bicycles in the country that has an equal number of inhabitants. Together, they bike - to school, work or errants such as shopping - over 14.4 billion kilometres a year, on average just short of 900 kilometres. Bike density at nearly 1.0 is the highest in the world. Only Denmark comes close with 1,000 bicycles for every 1,100 inhabitants.

In a recent survey for Dutch industry groups Bovag and Rai, the Netherlands leads the pack, with a number of other West-European countries and Japan having a bicycle density below 2. In other words, in Japan, Belgium, Germany, Zweden, Norway, Finland and Switzerland there is one bicycle for every two people. Just less than one in three people in the U.S. and Canada own one, similar to the numbers for China, Italy, the U.K. and France.

The industry survey also indicates that the Dutch are spending more and more for their new bicycle purchases, not because of rising prices, but because they opt for more expensive, and perhaps more durable bike models. Well over 38 percent of all new bikes bought in 2004 were priced over $850.

While moped and scooter sales has declined slightly, that of motorbikes is rising, especially of Japanese brands. At the end of 2004, some 537,000 motorcycles were registered in the Netherlands, a far cry however from the number of motorbikes on the road in Italy: over 4.5 million.