Two Wheels

All across Europe, bicycles outsold cars last year

It may have taken a full generation for Queen's 1978 oddball anthem Bicycle Race to take effect, but by golly, folks in the band's native UK, not to mention the rest of Europe, are getting the rather operatic message. Last year, Europeans bought more bicycles than light-duty vehicles in 25 of the 27 EU member nations, reflecting the dual realities of a sputtering economy and rising fuel prices, NPR reports.

In Italy, bikes outsold cars for the first time since World War II. And Freddie Mercury (if he were alive) would probably be pleased to know that the UK is are rocking the two wheels, with bike sales there almost twice as high as were car sales last year. In France, bikes outsold cars by about a three-to-two ratio, and even in car-crazy Germany, bikes outsold cars by about four to three. In fact, out of the European Union's 27 countries tracked, only Belgium and Luxembourg had higher car sales than bike sales in 2012.

Some European municipalities have enforced traffic laws specifically designed to encourage bike-riding as a way to cut both pollution and congestion. Notably, this summer, lawmakers in Edinburgh, Scotland, unveiled a plan to enforce a speed limit of 20 miles per hour throughout most of its residential and busier commercial districts. You can get a feel for the two-wheeled fun in our review of the 2014 BMW Cruise E-Bike.

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