The World on Two Wheels: Exploring the Number of Bikes in the World and Their Impact


Have you ever wondered how many bikes there are in the world? Bicycles are a relatively simple and efficient mode of transportation, and their impact extends far beyond merely getting from one place to another. In this article, we will explore the current statistics on the number of bikes in the world, their economic, environmental, social, and cultural significance, and the challenges in measuring their true number. We will also look at the history of bike popularity worldwide and the future of biking, including emerging biking technology, future predictions for bike ownership and usage, and opportunities for bike-related policy development. So, hop on your bike and join us on this ride to discover the fantastic world of biking!

The World on Two Wheels: A Statistical Look at the Number of Bikes in Circulation
The World on Two Wheels: A Statistical Look at the Number of Bikes in Circulation

The World on Two Wheels: A Statistical Look at the Number of Bikes in Circulation

Did you know that bikes outnumber cars globally by two to one, making them the most commonly used mode of transportation in the world? This is mainly due to the fact that bikes are more affordable, eco-friendly, and healthy for people and cities than cars. Global bicycle production reached 100 million bikes in 2019, with China, Europe, and India being the top producers, followed by Japan and Taiwan.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 1.3 billion bikes in the world, which covers both owned and shared bikes. Out of that number, China, with its vast population, is the leader, with an estimated 450 million bicycles. Other countries with a high number of bikes include India (200 million), Japan (72 million), Germany (72 million), and the United States (50 million) (Statista, 2021).

Pedaling the Planet: Exploring the Impact of Bicycles Across the Globe

Bicycles have an enormous impact worldwide, from economic to social and environmental aspects. Biking has a positive impact on the economy by creating jobs, reducing healthcare costs, and supporting local businesses. It also fosters ecotourism by promoting sustainable tourism and helps reduce carbon emissions, thereby mitigating climate change impacts.

Biking improves health by reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease and enhances the quality of life by offering mobility to older people, children, and people with disabilities. Bicycles also promote social and cultural cohesion, encouraging social interaction, and strengthening community ties. For example, biking cultures in countries like Denmark and the Netherlands are deeply ingrained in their social fabric and are integral to the local community’s identity.

Uncovering the Truth: How Many Bicycles Actually Exist in the World?

The question of how many bikes exist in the world is challenging to answer precisely. Some estimates indicate that there could be up to 2 billion bikes in the world, while others suggest that the number is closer to 1 billion (Morris, 2020). The primary challenge in measuring the number of bikes is that many are not registered, and there is no global database to track their numbers.

Bike manufacturers and trade associations use production and sales data to derive estimates of how many bikes might exist worldwide. The United Nations, through its annual World Population Prospects report, also makes estimates of global bike ownership. However, these estimates can be unreliable since they are often based on sales figures and do not take into account the number of second-hand bikes that are sold, traded, and reused.

From Asia to Europe: A Global Study on Bike Ownership and Usage

Bike ownership and usage differ significantly between countries and regions, depending on geographic, cultural, and socio-economic conditions. For example, biking in Europe is more common than in North America, where car culture is prevalent. In contrast, in many Asian and African countries, biking is still a crucial mode of transportation due to factors such as affordability, ease of use, and lack of infrastructure for other modes of transportation.

In China, where bikes are immensely popular, bike-sharing schemes have become a major business. Mobike and Ofo, two of China’s biggest bike-sharing companies, have more than 10 million bikes in circulation and have expanded to other countries, including Europe and the United States. In India, bikes are commonly used by millions of people, especially in cities with heavy traffic congestion.

Bicycle Booms and Busts: A Historical Perspective on the Rise and Fall of Bike Popularity Worldwide
Bicycle Booms and Busts: A Historical Perspective on the Rise and Fall of Bike Popularity Worldwide

Bicycle Booms and Busts: A Historical Perspective on the Rise and Fall of Bike Popularity Worldwide

Biking has a rich history dating back to the early 19th century when it was considered a leisure activity for the elite. However, bike popularity has gone through several booms and busts over time, influenced by political, social, and technological factors.

In the 1970s, the global bike boom occurred, triggered mainly by the oil crisis, which led to fuel shortages and high gasoline prices. People turned to bikes as a cheap alternative mode of transportation. However, this boom was short-lived, and by the 1980s, bike production declined, and many bike shops closed due to oversupply.

Making a Difference: How Bicycles are Changing Lives and Communities Across the World

Biking offers many opportunities for community development and individual empowerment, particularly in low-income countries and communities. For example, local NGOs and community groups often initiate bike-sharing programs that offer affordable, accessible, and sustainable transportation options to marginalized groups.

In Colombia, the Biciudad project uses biking to transform the poorest neighborhoods in Bogotá into vibrant, safe, and inclusive communities. The project involves building bike lanes and implementing bike-sharing programs while educating residents on traffic safety and cycling skills. The project has shown to reduce crime rates, improve air quality, and promote healthy lifestyles.

The Future of Biking: Predictions and Projections for the Growth of Cycling Worldwide
The Future of Biking: Predictions and Projections for the Growth of Cycling Worldwide

The Future of Biking: Predictions and Projections for the Growth of Cycling Worldwide

The future of biking looks bright, with emerging biking technology and increasing interest in sustainability. E-bikes, for example, are gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional bikes, offering an electric motor alongside the pedaling system to provide extra assistance when needed. This technology has significant potential to expand bike usage, particularly for people who live in hilly or challenging terrain or have mobility issues.

Future predictions indicate that biking worldwide will continue to see significant growth, driven particularly by bike-sharing schemes, urbanization, and government policies promoting sustainable transportation. However, challenges and opportunities for biking policy development remain, including the need for more cycling infrastructure, safe cycling routes, and bike-friendly laws and regulations.


Biking is a mode of transportation with numerous benefits, including its positive impact on the economy, the environment, and people’s social and cultural lives. Bike popularity has gone through several booms and busts, but it continues to be one of the most used modes of transportation worldwide.

Despite the challenges in counting the number of bikes globally, estimates suggest that there could be up to 2 billion bikes worldwide, with China being the leader in bike ownership. Biking is evolving, and emerging technologies such as e-bikes provide opportunities to increase bike usage worldwide. However, future policy development is necessary to promote bike-friendly infrastructure and safe cycling routes.

Are you inspired to bike more or get involved in bike-related activism? You can join local biking clubs, advocate for more bicycle-friendly policies in your community, or support bike-related community projects.

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