As can be seen from the chart, global automobile production very nearly
caught up with bicycles in terms of total numbers by the late 1960's, but since then
bicycle production has far outstripped that of automobiles and currently stands at about a
2.5 to 1 ratio (down somewhat from the 3 to 1 ratio of the early 1990's).
So while bike sales may be steady or declining in America over the past few years,
they continue to make enormous gains in other parts of the world -- particularly Asia
where China alone, until this most recent downturn, had been producing more bikes than all
the world's automotive output combined.
Despite a 21% drop in 1997 to 30 million units, China is still far and away the
world's leading bicycle manufacturer, with Taiwan at 11.9 million and India at 11.5
million following. Note also that while the global automobile fleet has expanded from less
than 200 million to just over 500 million since 1970, during that same time well over 2
*billion* bicycles were produced.