A recent article on Wired’s Autopia blog cites high gas prices, the obesity epidemic, a failing economy, and environmental concerns as the drivers behind recent record sales in the bike industry. Industry insiders can hardly contain themselves over the amount of cash flowing into the industry right now. Here’s Tim Blumenthal of Bikes Belong at the Interbike trade show:
“You can feel the collective buzz,” a smiling Tim Blumenthal, executive director of the bicycle advocacy group Bikes Belong, says from the middle of the bustling show floor. “It’s a really, really heady time for us. This show feels very optimistic and that bucks the general economic trends. There doesn’t seem to be many businesses that are thriving, but the bike business is doing very well.”
Some manufacturers are even openly hoping for higher gas prices, with the idea they’ll further drive up bike sales:
“The gas prices are the best thing that ever happened to cycling,” says Kevin Menard, whose year-old bike business, Traitor Cycles, is thriving. “I hope they go up even more.”
This is a case of “be careful what you ask for.” Sure, high gas prices will continue to spur along bike sales for a time, but if the economy tanks badly enough, even high gas prices won’t ensure long-term bike sales.
The article states that “Electric bike manufacturers are particularly bullish…”, but despite what producers are saying, that’s a promise that has yet to be fulfilled here in the U.S. It will be interesting to see if electric-assist eventually catches on as it has in Europe.
I’m thrilled that the bicycle industry is doing so well, but I hope that we’re not looking at a flash in the pan that disappears as soon as the economy settles and people get accustomed to $4 per gallon gas. If it is, we’re going to see an awful lot of bikes hanging in the rafters come next year.
Read the full article at Wired →