For the first time in many decades, Italians are buying more bicycles than cars. Over the last year, new car registration plummeted by 20 percent, while bicycle sales increased by 10 percent. Last year's score was bicycles, 1.75 million; cars, 1.74 million.
There's little doubt that Italy's crappy economy had a lot to do with the change, but anyone who's ever been to any of the country's narrow-streeted villages knows that perhaps it's not such a bad thing.
When my grandfather left Sicily to move to the U.S. in 1948, most Italians rode bicycles. They fit onto narrow streets and worked reasonably well within the framework of Italians' laissez faire approach to traffic laws. His visits over the years have revealed a car-clogged scene that can only be described as a clusterfuck.
Having both driven and ridden a bicycle in Italian cities, I have to regard this as a welcome change. At the very least it'll mean more room for people with Lancia Integrales to get sideways.
Photo credit: Associated Press