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Top 10 Countries with Most Bicycles per Capita

There are more than a billion bicycles in the world, twice as many as automobiles. In recent years bike production had climbed to over 100 million per year (compared to 50 million cars). Bicycles were introduced in the 19th century and since when have been and are employed for many uses: recreation, work, military, show, sport etc. For example in the USA, people use bikes for slimming and better feeling because cycling burns 600 calories an hour, but in China or other countries people use bikes mostly for transportation needs. For these reasons in some countries bikes are especially popular. There are top 10 countries with most bicycles per capita:

10. China

bikes-in-china(Image credits: gruntzooki)

  • People: 1,342,700,000
  • Bicycles: >500,000,000
  • Cyclists: >37.2%

Fact: 60 percent of local cyclists in Shanghai (most populous city in China) pedal to work every day. The city is home to 9,430,000 million bicycles and 19,213,200 people.

9. Belgium

bikes-in-belgium(Image credits: mat.teo)

  • People: 10,827,519
  • Bicycles: 5,200,000
  • Cyclists: ~48%

In Belgium 8% of all trips are made by bike. The average distance cycled per person per day is 0.9 km. Cycling is a national sport for the Belgians. Belgians are very serious about their bike. A real Belgian keeps an expensive, quality bike well maintained with functioning breaks and inflated tires and usually wears a helmet and a bright yellow vest to make him or herself visible to car.

8. Switzerland

bikes-in-switzerland (Image credits: Richy!)

  • People: 7,782,900
  • Bycicles: 3,800,000
  • Cyclists: ~48.8

In Switzerland 5% of all trips and 10% of trips to work are made by bike. Switzerland is a cycling country. Here this is more than just an activity, it is a healthy way to enjoy the nature and the hospitality of local people. The Swiss even have “Bike to Work“ campaigns when employees ride their bike to work.

7. Japan

bike-in-japan (Image credits: isado)

  • People: 127,370,000
  • Bicycles: 72,540,000
  • Cyclists: ~56.9%

In Japan 15 percent of trips to work are made by bicycle. In recent years more than 10 millions bikes are sold every year. In Japan bicycles are widely used as an alternative to motorcars. A lot of people use them to ride to the train stations. In nowadays more and more Japanese are taking up bicycling to work for health reasons and to avoid traffic jams and crowded trains. Many people don’t lock their bicycles even when they leave their bikes outside railroad stations all day or overnight.

6. Finland

bike-in-finland(Image credits: hfb)

  • People: 5,380,200
  • Bicycles: 3,250,000
  • Cyclists: ~60.4%

In Finland 9% of all trips are made by bike. The average distance cycled per inhabitant per day is 0.7 km. Fins ride bicycles without reference to the age or social status, both children and grown-ups: tourists and housewives, pensioners and students. Although the cycling season in this country  traditionally starts in spring or summer, some fans of bikes is not afraid of neither the rain, nor slush, nor event winter snowstorms. The love of Fins cyclists to the bicycles can be compared with their love to dogs, or to fishing, or to sauna.

5. Norway

broken-bike (Image credits: SveterCZE)

  • People: 4,943,000
  • Bicycles: 3,000,000
  • Cyclists: ~60.7%

In Norway 4% of all trips are made by bike. In Norway, with a population of 4,943 million people and 3 million bicycles, 60.000 bicycles disappear each year, never to be seen by their owners again.Most bicycles are stolen from places owners assume are safe. Experienced thieves can take even locked bikes in about 10-20 seconds.On the streets, the value of a stolen bicycle is approximately 5-10% of the bicycle’s original retail value, with an inverse relationship between value and percentage worth on the street. About 10% of the stolen bicycles are exported to Russia and Eastern Europe.

4. Sweden

bikes-in-sweden (Image credits: Riviera Kid)

  • People: 9,418,732
  • Bicycles: 6,000,000
  • Cyclists: ~63.7%

In Finland 9% of all trips are made by bike. The average distance cycled per person per day is 0.7 km. The bicycle in Finnish family is a necessary thing such as a TV-set. For Finnish people bike is even more valuable than a TV. Often a family has a few different bicycles, depending on the number of members of a family and their age.

3. Germany

bike-in-germany (Image credits: diskostu)

  • People: 81,802,000
  • Bicycles: 62,000,000
  • Cyclists: ~75.8%

In the Germany 9% of all trips are made by bike. The average distance cycled per inhabitant per day is 0.9 km. Cycling is ingrained in the German culture. It is rare to find an adult German who did not grow up riding a bike and whose children, parents, and even grandparents probably still ride bikes.  This fact makes drivers and pedestrians understanding and accommodating to bicycle riders (unlike in the US).

2. Denmark

bike-in-denmark (Image credits: Marionzetta)

  • People: 5,560,628
  • Bicycles: 4,500,000
  • Cyclists: ~80.1%

In the Denmark 18% of all trips are made by bike.The average distance cycled per person is 1.6 km. Cycling is generally perceived as a healthier, cheaper, environmentally friendlier and often even quicker way to travel around towns than car or public transport and it is therefore municipal policy for the number of commuters by bike to go up to 40% by 2012 and 50% by 2015. In Copenhagen (the capital of Denmark) 37% of all citizens ride their bike on a daily basis. The local town hall even offers the visitors rental bikes for free.Interesting fact: the average travelling speed in Copenhagen is 16 kph for cyclists and 27 kph for cars.

1. Country of cyclists – Netherlands

bikes-in-amsterdam (Image credits: JonasPhoto)

  • People: 16,652,800
  • Bicycles: 16,500,000
  • Cyclists: ~99.1%

In the Netherlands 27% of all trips and 25% of trips to work are made by bike. The average distance cycled per person per day is 2.5 km. Holland and bicycles go together like bread and jam. Despite the recession the cycle-happy Dutch are still spending a lot of money on their bicycles – nearly 1 billion euros’ worth a year. About 1.3 million bicycles were sold in the Netherlands in 2009, at an average price of 713 euros ($1,008) each. Amsterdam (the capital and largest city of the Netherlands) is one of the most bicycle-friendly large cities in the world. It has 400 km of bike lanes and nearly 40% of all commutes in Amsterdam are done on bike. Strangely, most cyclists don’t wear helmets. And bike theft is a big problem, with about one of five (20%) bicycles being stolen each year.

For comparison:

USA

  • People: 310,936,000
  • Bicycles: 100,000,000
  • Bicylists: ~32,2%
  • In the USA only 0,9% of all trips are made by bike. The average distance cycled per person is 0.1 km.
    Sources: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

    Kilometers to Miles Conversion

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    35 Comments

    1. Excellent article. Bicycle is the clean form of transport and everybody’s vehicle.
      Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

    2. wat abot Africa ?????

    3. Netherlands is the best!!!!!

    4. The responses are all geared towards Netherlands , while the statistic is a guide for the whole world. There might be discrepancies , but you cannot deny the fact that Netherlands is no one. We need more experiences from readers of the other countries , especially , china, Germany and Japan. The rest of the 10 countries especially ,Sweden, Switzerland ,Norway and Denmark are not heavy tourist sites.

    5. bycycle is the best thing to do if u want to loose your calorese and having good time and at the same time fun aswel

    6. Fytze
      March 11, 2013 • 12:00 am
      .
      Your interpretation of the statistics is wrong, in every example you simply divided the number of bicycles in a country by the inhabitants and concluded the percentage of cyclists this way. Especially in the Netherlands this big statistic mistake is obvious:

      People: 16,652,800
      Bicycles: 16,500,000
      Cyclists: ~99.1%

      If there are as many bicycles as people it doesn’t mean that every person is a cyclist! How can 99,1% of a population be cyclist? Only think about babies, elderly, cripled, etc. Really a very very stupid mistake.

      You’d better look at the percentage of journeys made by bicycle, the distance travelled by bicycle, etc. And then ofcourse you would have to compare those numbers with the other forms of transport used in that country (car, public, walking). Only then you can make the sort of conclusions you are trying to make here.

      BTW, I own over 20 bikes so that make me for more than 2000% a cyclist. Well that, or I kind of skew the whole statistics for you

      Reply

      • I also found this rather misleading. We are currently working on a data mining project to determine global bicycle ownership patterns. I’m excited for our work because popular news sources really never show the complete picture and often wrongly interpret data, as we’ve seen here. Of course no one will talk about Vietnam or Burkina Faso, which also have high rates of ownership (and usage). I wonder how they estimated the number of bicycles in each of these countries. One definitely has to look at modeshare (and other factors, as you mentioned) before talking about usage.

    7. Your interpretation of the statistics is wrong, in every example you simply divided the number of bicycles in a country by the inhabitants and concluded the percentage of cyclists this way. Especially in the Netherlands this big statistic mistake is obvious:

      People: 16,652,800
      Bicycles: 16,500,000
      Cyclists: ~99.1%

      If there are as many bicycles as people it doesn’t mean that every person is a cyclist! How can 99,1% of a population be cyclist? Only think about babies, elderly, cripled, etc. Really a very very stupid mistake.

      You’d better look at the percentage of journeys made by bicycle, the distance travelled by bicycle, etc. And then ofcourse you would have to compare those numbers with the other forms of transport used in that country (car, public, walking). Only then you can make the sort of conclusions you are trying to make here.

      BTW, I own over 20 bikes so that make me for more than 2000% a cyclist. Well that, or I kind of skew the whole statistics for you ;-)

      • You said it yourself. Some people might have 20 bikes, some might have none. The percentage just evens that out. The statistics are not saying that every person in the Netherlands is a cyclists, but rather more people have bikes and those people have more bikes. I agree that using percentages is quite misleading and the author would have been better off using more of the 1 bike for every 3 people kind of statistics.

        • I’m sorry, but this is not correct. If you say “99% cyclists” , that means “99 % of the people regularly use a bike”. If half a million people don’t own a bike, that is impossible. And they don’t. Besides, “99 % of the people regularly use a bike” just does not *mean* the same thing as “for every 100 inhabitants, there are 99 bikes”, which is what the *real* meaning is.

        • No, Megan, Fytze is right. This is a biased report, propaganda really. Look to trips estimates. It illustrates the lie.

        • It is the job of the reader of the statistic to understand how to read them.

          This stat makes cyclists out as riders how can own more then one bike on average, like 1.1 bike per person.

          So, how many people actually ride in Netherlands? Well with such high numbers of bikes to people ratio you can clearly see the culture of riding is big their. A bicycle is highly available to people, so likely anyone who is able bodied does it.

          We can also look at the age demographics of the Dutch, and see if they have a young or older population. Well I’d did that, and I would say they have a medium high age of population. A mean age of 45, with a healthy amount of seniors, and youth.

          Lets say the 80+ age groups count as non-riders, and 0-4 age group as well, this leaves us with 800,000 not counted, less if I add in people who are not physically able to ride, lets say another 100,000 for a total of minus 900,000, leaving about ~15.7M Dutch riders. What that means is that there are slightly more bikes (16.5M) then people who are riders (15.7M), or about 1.05 bikes per person.

          All said, more bikes exist then riders. So, do nearly all able bodied people in the Netherlands ride a bike?

          Well if so, it would have to be a very commonly seen activity, and would be reflected in the landscape of the country and cities !

          We would see things like areas to lock bikes near metro stations like the picture above, and read things like 400KM of bike path in Amsterdam, a billion spent on bikes per year, etc, an in this case we do. Still not a clear number of actual riders, but with one in four people riding to work, Netherlands is very common place to ride.

          Does Dallas have this same seen going on ?

    8. the pic in Netherlands is taken in Delft not in Amsterdam.

    9. Yes right. Netherlands is called as Country of cyclists. There many people right there who use bike as main vehicle. Great country

    10. Most of these countries are making their country pollution free and cycling keeps them Fit and healthy !

      • “Pollution free”? Hardly. You can’t ignore industry, power generation from fossil fuels, home heating, trucks, buses, etc. Germany & China are still big on coal–the real dirty kind.

    11. It is very easy to bike in Netherlands and Belgium (especially Flanders) because of the mild weather and flat terrain. The US is more spread out with most people commuting longer (as they cannot afford to live in the city). Many parts of USA are buried under the snow for months with temperatures dipping to minus 20 deg C.

      • That’s true. In a lot of countries, cities are so big, if cycling from one side to the other could take you an hour or more. Me as a Dutch person, if I would take my bike and cycle for an hour, I could be in another city. Everything I need in here is within cycling distance.

      • I know this is a really old post, but winters here in the Netherlands drop to minus 20 degrees celcius as well, with even colder temperatures in denmark, sweden, norway and finland, who are also on the list. Nothing more fun than cycling through the snow by the way!

      • Well, I think its even better that the city planning to have small multiple manageable cities than one big unmanageable city.
        And yes, Sweden, Denmark have very low temps. most part of the year.
        It’s more about how people think rather than other reasons.

    12. yeuyyy Whe are the country of the bycicle!!!

    13. Thanks for the useful information, i will use it in my research & make a reference to your site :)

    14. The countries that use bikes for most travel, who never had much pollution, and do not want
      pollution, have to be ‘intelligent’ species (humans). Excellent doing.

      • You want a country that never had much pollution, try Ireland. But that is because it missed out on the early Industrial Revolution and its after effects.

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