Historic patterns and sustainability implications of worldwide bicycle possession and use


The worldwide overview of bicycle manufacturing and inventory

World manufacturing of bicycles elevated from 20.7 million models in 1962 to 123.3 million models in 2015, with a compound annual development price of three.4% which is greater than that of worldwide automobile manufacturing (3.0% from 14.0 million models to 68.6 million models) in the identical interval. The worldwide bicycle manufacturing has notably thrived because the Nineteen Seventies, with a a lot greater development price than automobile manufacturing, and after a stagnating interval within the Nineteen Nineties, it revived after 2000 and leveled off at a excessive degree of 111 million models lately. The aggregated quantity of worldwide bicycle manufacturing from 1962 to 2015 is 4.65 billion models, which is 2.4 instances of the aggregated quantity of worldwide automobile manufacturing.

In 2015, China alone accounted for 65.7 % of worldwide bicycle manufacturing, whereas the U.S. had been the world’s largest bicycle producer till 1975. China grew to become the most important producer after 2002 (Fig. 1 and Supplementary Fig. 5 within the supplementary materials) and has produced over half of worldwide bicycles since then. The opposite high nations for bicycle manufacturing after China had been Brazil, India, Italy, and Germany, taking on 5%, 4%, 2%, and a pair of%, respectively, of the full international manufacturing.

Fig. 1: Historic overview of worldwide automobile and bicycle manufacturing and inventory from 1962 to 2015.
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a Historic international manufacturing of automobile and bicycle from 1962 to 2015, b The share of worldwide bicycle manufacturing in 1970 and 2015, c Bicycle inventory from 1962 to 2015, d Automobile inventory from 1962 to 2015. Bicycle refers to standard human-powered ones solely, whereas the automobile class consists of all varieties of four-wheeled personal autos similar to small passenger automobiles, sports activities utility autos, and light-weight vans. The nation codes are based mostly on ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 code. ROW signifies the remainder of world.

The share of the highest 5 nations in bicycle gross sales decreased from 67% in 1962 to 44% in 2015 as a result of China’s sale share decreased dramatically just lately. China has overtaken the USA and dominated (22%) the worldwide bicycle gross sales since 1980. Then China’s share in international gross sales continued to extend to 45% in 1987 and remained at a excessive degree of round 39% in China’s golden time of bicycles from the early Eighties to the mid-Nineteen Nineties29. In distinction, the worldwide gross sales shares of different main nations haven’t modified a lot. In 2015, the opposite three high nations in bicycle gross sales after China and the U.S. had been Brazil, Japan, and Germany, taking on 4%, 4%, and three%, respectively, of the worldwide complete. On a per capita degree, nevertheless, the highest nations are present in Europe (principally Nordic nations), Japan, and the U.S.

The worldwide bicycle inventory and automobile inventory development from 1962 to 2015 confirmed various patterns. The worldwide bicycle inventory continued to extend to 1.9 billion models in 2015. The highest 5 nations when it comes to bicycle inventory (1.0 billion models and above) in 2015 had been China, the U.S., India, Japan, and Germany, which add as much as over 54% of the worldwide complete. This share elevated considerably from 62% in 1980 to 68% in 1999 because of the biking increase in China throughout this era, however decreased afterward on account of the quick motorization in China. Nonetheless, China continues to be the nation with the most important bicycle inventory, accounting for twenty-four% of the worldwide complete. In the meantime, the worldwide automobile inventory elevated from 0.1 billion models in 1962 to 1.1 billion models in 2015. The highest 5 nations when it comes to automobile inventory in 2015 had been sequentially the U.S., China, Japan, Germany, and Russia, which add as much as 0.5 billion models or roughly 50% of the worldwide complete.

Historic patterns of bicycle possession vis-à-vis automobile possession in street transport

Usually, per-capita bicycle possession is greater than per-capita automobile possession in most nations, particularly in industrialized nations (see Supplementary Fig. 10 and Supplementary Fig. 11). The worldwide per-capita bicycle possession continued growing till 1995 after which remained round 0.29 unit percapita afterward (Supplementary Fig. 8). Nationally, European nations are among the many highest. For instance, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway all have over one bicycle per capita. The Netherlands and Denmark have at all times been the highest two when it comes to bicycle possession after 1970. Round 95% of individuals in Denmark personal at the least one bicycle37, and its per capita bicycle possession exceeds that of the Netherlands and stays the world’s highest after 1990, due primarily to education-cultivated biking tradition and well-developed biking infrastructure38. Bicycle possession in lots of low and middle-income nations (e.g., Africa and Asia), quite the opposite, is lower than the median per-capita bicycle possession (0.3 unit per capita in 2015) of the 60 world main nations. Japan has the best bicycle possession per capita (0.95 unit per capita in 2015) in Asia.

Determine 2 portrays the evolutionary patterns of per capita bicycle possession, vis-à-vis automobile possession, of the 60 world main nations from 1962 to 2015. The comparability between the historic growth of bicycle possession and automobile possession (see Supplementary Fig. 12) reveals 5 various sorts (Supplementary Desk 8) in an S-curve within the historic patterns of street passenger transport and socioeconomic growth of nations.

Fig. 2: Historic per-capita bicycle possession versus per-capita automobile possession from 1962 to 2015.
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The determine is split into 4 quadrants with coloration by median values of the 2 in 2015 (the dashed strains within the determine). The primary (blue), second (pink), third (yellow), and fourth (inexperienced) quandrants thus point out mixtures of excessive bicycle possession & excessive automobile possession, low bicycle possession & excessive automobile possession, low bicycle possession & low automobile possession, and excessive bicyle possession & low automobile possession. The black, blue, orange, purple, and inexperienced dots, letters, or strains in each interior and outer figures point out Kind 1, Kind 2, Kind 3, Kind 4, and Kind 5 nations respectively, that are additional detailed in Desk 1, Supplementary Desk 8, and Supplementary Fig. 12. The nation codes are based mostly on ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 code. The indicative gray belts in each outer and interior figures summarize the evolutionary sample with 5 various sorts amongst totally different nations.

The kind 1 and kind 2 nations are primarily low- and middle-income nations, by which bicycle possession is greater than automobile possession as a consequence of affordability. Their degree of bicycle and automobile possession is much lower than the worldwide median. The kind 1 nations are on the extraordinarily low ranges for each bicycle and automobile possession with a median worth of 0.08 and 0.04 unit percapita, respectively, in 2015. Because the nations proceed to develop, the motorization price steadily will increase however stays nonetheless low in most kind 1 nations (e.g., India and Bolivia). Kind 2 nations have a comparatively greater revenue degree, and solely 10% are within the decrease center revenue class. In contrast with kind 1 nations, the sort 2 nations witnessed quick motorization with a fast improve in automobile possession over the previous three a long time. Their bicycle possession, quite the opposite, usually ranges off and even decreases (as proven by China, Chile, and Brazil) on the identical time; and only some nations (i.e., Korea, Romania, and Ukraine) resurged in bicycle possession after their motorization price steadily slows down.

Desk 1 The 5 various sorts in historic growth of per capita automobile and bicycle possession.

Kind 3, kind 4, and kind 5 nations are all high-income nations, reflecting that high-income nations are inclined to have extra various street transport patterns. The kind 3 nations, just like kind 2 nations, present an especially fast improve of automobile possession and a sluggish improve of bicycle possession, whereas each are on a better degree than that of the sort 2 nations. For instance, in Poland, Portugal, Italy, and Spain, automobile possession in 2015 reached roughly 0.44 to 0.62 unit per capita, which is far greater than the worldwide median on this yr. Automobile possession in Italy doubled (from 0.30 to 0.62 unit per capita) over the previous 35 years, which is 131% greater than the worldwide median worth; nevertheless, its bicycle possession was solely 0.31 unit per capita in 2015, which is 3% under the worldwide median degree in 2015. The kind 4 nations present the best automobile possession degree and a excessive bicycle possession degree, which is 142% and 140%, respectively, greater than the worldwide median in 2015. These nations (the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) have huge land areas and cities with comparatively low inhabitants densities, forcing residents right into a car-centric life-style and leading to unsustainable mobility patterns39. The kind 5 nations present the best degree of bicycle possession (which is 181% greater than the worldwide median degree) and a excessive however saturated degree of automobile possession (which is decrease than that of the sort 4 nations and falls into the vary of the sort 3 nations). These nations are industrialized nations in Europe the place the fundamental transport wants are met already, and the pursuit for a extra environmentally pleasant and more healthy life has pushed the rise of bicycle possession.

The worldwide sample of bicycle and automobile use

Determine 3 reveals that, compared to automobiles, possession for bicycles performs a much less necessary function of their utilization. Bicycle possession in 2015 solely explains 36% of the variation in bicycle use in that yr. In different phrases, a better bicycle possession doesn’t essentially assure an elevated bicycle use. So far, bicycle performs a marginal function in journey mode choice in most nations. Among the many 60 nations included in our dataset, the common bicycle modal share accounts for lower than 5%. Intuitively, nations with low bicycle possession (primarily within the third quadrant, predominantly low-income nations) even have low bicycle modal share as a result of they lack entry to a bicycle. Additional, nations with excessive bicycle possession (particularly kind 4 and kind 5 nations within the fourth quadrant) however with equally low bicycle modal share deserve a better look. As a substitute, nations within the first quadrant have excessive possession and excessive modal share (each are a lot greater than the worldwide median degree). Particularly, the Netherlands and Denmark signify the highest degree of the bicycle modal share (greater than 20%) and bicycle possession (over 1 unit percapita) on the earth. Evaluating to those nations, the nations within the decrease a part of the primary quadrant and within the fourth quadrant both have particular local weather and terrain situations (e.g., in chilly and hilly Norway and dry and sizzling Kuwait the place bicycle use is difficult) or dependence on automobiles (e.g., within the U.S. and Australia the place bicycle use is extra seen as a leisure exercise).

Fig. 3: The patterns of the automobile and bicycle use in 2015.
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a Bicycle modal share in opposition to bicycle possession per capita, and b automobile modal share in opposition to automobile possession per capita. The dashed strains point out the median values of the x-axis and y-axis, which splits the figures into 4 quadrants. The stable strains in a and b present outcomes of the linear regression becoming. See particulars of regression leads to Supplementary Desk 9 and Supplementary Desk 10.

Automobile possession and automobile modal share are nicely correlated (R2 = 0.57, p = 0.000). The automobile modal share is comparatively low (25–38%) in nations with low automobile possession (within the third quadrant), and it will increase to 40% or greater as automobile possession will increase, reaching as excessive as 74% for kind 4 nations. The few exceptions the place automobile modal share stays low and automobile possession is comparatively excessive, similar to Switzerland, Japan, and the Czech Republic, have well-developed and environment friendly public transportation methods (e.g., public buses and subways) to fulfill their fundamental mobility demand.

To discover different components that affect bicycle modal share, we examined the correlation between bike use patterns and potential affect components. Earlier research have recognized constructed setting40,41, particular person habits14,42, and journey traits14,16,43,44 as necessary components underlying the use patterns of bicycles. Primarily based on this, we collected knowledge and examined the influences of 4 key parameters (automobile possession, revenue degree, inhabitants density, and visitors security) to bicycle use patterns in numerous nations (see Supplementary Fig. 15). For nations with comparatively excessive automobile possession (particularly kind 4 nations in Fig. 2), greater automobile possession and thus automobile habit would negatively influence bicycle modal share. We additionally seen that nations with extraordinarily excessive revenue degree and bicycle possession (e.g., the Netherlands and Denmark) have a tendency to extend bicycle use, possible as a consequence of some particular nation traits, similar to a biking tradition, excessive environmental consciousness, well-developed biking infrastructure, and flat terrains. It’s also proven that, amongst nations with an analogous degree of bicycle possession, inhabitants density positively impacts bicycle use on a each day journey as a result of decrease inhabitants density usually makes driving a necessity (e.g., kind 4 nations). International locations with excessive visitors dying charges (e.g., Thailand, Brazil, and Russia) are inclined to have comparatively low bicycle use as a result of biking will be perceived as harmful. This discovering echoes earlier analysis that bicycle infrastructure growth (e.g., separate bicycle lanes) might improve the bicycle modal share36,45. For instance, the provisional redistribution of road area in the course of the COVID-19 disaster has induced giant, fast improve in biking36.

Potential local weather and well being advantages of accelerating bicycle use

Utilizing the bicycle use patterns from the Netherlands and Denmark, the 2 nations with the best bicycle modal share (Supplementary Fig. 2), as two reference situations, we offered an order-of-magnitude estimate on the well being and local weather advantages if different nations observe the Dutch and Danish patterns (detailed in Strategies). Outcomes (in Fig. 4a) present that roughly 414 million metric tons of carbon emission could possibly be decreased if everybody on the earth cycles 1.6 kilometers each day just like the Danes46, which is roughly the identical (98%) because the nationwide carbon emissions of the UK in 201547. This local weather profit could possibly be elevated to 686 million metric tons if the Dutch biking sample was adopted with each day biking distance of two.6 kilometers; this saving is roughly 86% of the nationwide carbon emissions of Germany in 201547, or round 20% of carbon emissions from the worldwide passenger automobile fleet in 201548.

Fig. 4: The potential profit of accelerating bicycle use in two thought-experiment situations.
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a The carbon emissions saving and b well being profit (measured as prevented deaths) used within the situations assuming the present bicycle use patterns in Denmark and the Netherlands had been adopted globally. c The present bicycle possession, modal share, and the weight problems price throughout nations in 2015. The bubble sizes in c point out the inventory effectivity of bicycles (outlined as km service per bicycle) and the colour signifies the speed of weight problems throughout the nation.

Moreover, nations with greater biking modal share are inclined to have a decrease price of grownup weight problems26. For instance, the prevalence of grownup weight problems in kind 5 nations is far decrease than that in kind 4 nations (see Fig. 4c). Though the prevalence of weight problems is an element of many different socioeconomic, behavioral, cultural, and environmental components24,49,50 (which deserve additional quantitative and causality evaluation sooner or later), the unfavourable correlation between the prevalence of grownup weight problems and bicycle modal share sheds mild on the potential well being advantages of accelerating bicycle use.

We quantified the constructive and unfavourable well being influence based mostly on the well being financial evaluation device (HEAT) mannequin developed by World Well being Group. Determine 4b reveals that roughly 0.17 million deaths had been prevented because of the present degree of bicycle use. In comparison with this baseline in 2015, one other 0.43 million or 0.78 million deaths, respectively, could possibly be doubtlessly prevented within the two thought-experiment situations. In the meantime, the growing biking exercise will result in 0.09 and 0.16 million deaths underneath the present state of affairs of visitors security within the two situations. Ultimately, 0.34 and 0.62 million deaths could possibly be prevented if the Danish and Dutch biking patterns had been adopted globally. Realizing such biking patterns globally in actuality, nevertheless, could be difficult. Thus classes realized from profitable experiences in nations like Denmark and the Netherlands, notably on town degree similar to Copenhagen and Amsterdam51,52,53, could be important. These embody however should not restricted to, for instance, correct bicycle lanes planning and constructuion, pro-bicycle training and tradition, and insurance policies to discourage automobile use via tax45,54,55,56.

Limitation and outlook

The worldwide bicycle possession and use knowledge we compiled, as a primary estimate, bear unavoidable uncertainties. The drivers and influence evaluation are primarily based mostly on the interpretation of correlation evaluation as a result of ample bottom-up knowledge (particularly on the sub-national and metropolis degree) for additional causality evaluation shouldn’t be accessible but. Extra city-level knowledge assortment by way of superior applied sciences and rising varieties of city massive knowledge (e.g., cell phone or sensor based mostly knowledge and GPS based mostly mobility patterns) sooner or later might facilitate higher understanding of drivers (e.g., behavioral components19,57,58,59,60) of bicycle use. Moreover, the temporal (till 2015 solely) and spatial protection (for 60 world main nations) of our knowledge will be additional prolonged in future evaluation. For instance, the bicycle sharing scheme which popped up in some nations within the current years (after 2015) might change the patterns of bicycle shares and use and deserve a particular focus29. Nonetheless, we consider our resulst nonetheless present a superb foundation to elaborate our international historical past on bicycles, notably the function of bicycles in sustainable street transport transition. The numerous untapped local weather and well being advantages of accelerating bicycle use name for additional knowledge assortment and quantitative evaluation alongside this line19,57,58,59,60 and counsel an pressing want to advertise sustainable bicycle use by way of supporting coverage, planning, and infrastructure growth.



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