Below is an excerpt from a cyclingnews.com article dated January 8, 2008:
Bikes continue to outsell cars in Australia
Australian lobby groups are calling for more government funding for cycling infrastructure, after the release of new figures showing the industry sold more bikes than the car industry did vehicles for the eighth consecutive year in 2007. The nation sold a record 1.47 million bicycles in 2007, compared to 1.04 million cars, while the government is believed to spend $7.5 billion on road related expenditure compared to the $100 million spent on cycling infrastructure.
"Soaring petrol prices, concern over climate change, crippling traffic congestion and the desire to lead healthier lifestyles all contributed to the record breaking year" said Elliot Fishman, policy advisor at the Cycling Promotion Fund. "Not only are Australians buying more bicycles, they are using them in increasing numbers. Cycling has become the fourth most popular physical activity with more than 1.6 million Australian adults cycling in 2006, an increase of 17 percent from 2001. (The full article can be found here, after scrolling down a bit.)
Does anybody know what the figures are for the U.S. on bicycle v. car purchases and government money spent on cycling infrastructure? I don't, but it's probably rather embarrassing, especially when President Bush's Secretary of Transportation makes comments like these on the PBS "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" show:
You know, I think Americans would be shocked to learn that only about 60 percent of the gas tax money that they pay today actually goes into highway and bridge construction. Much of it goes in many, many other areas.
Well, there's about probably some 10 percent to 20 percent of the current spending that is going to projects that really are not transportation, directly transportation-related. Some of that money is being spent on things, as I said earlier, like bike paths or trails.
Good God!! Transportation money being spent on cycling infrastructure!! Don't these people know that bicycles are toys, not modes of transportation that increase overall health (and thus decrease health care costs) and help the environment. Tell it like it is, Secretary Peters!
A link to a discussion of this (odious) interview can be found here on streetsblog.org, as well a link to a transcript of the entire interview.