Bikes outselling cars in Italy for first time since WWII

Economic crisis cited as major factor in shift

Italians bought more new bikes than cars in 2011 for the first time since the Second World War, according to reports in the country.

The website Today said 1.75m bicycles sold with the corresponding number of new cars registered a shade below at 1,748,143. It cited the deep economic crisis as a big factor in the figures, with unemployment reaching a record high of 10.7 percent in August and sky rocketing fuel prices largely to blame.

Aside from economic reasons, it also suggests a more fundamental reason for the change: Italians simply rediscovering their love for cycling. The news comes in the week before a major cycling conference - Stati Generali della Bicicletta e della Mobilità nuova - which aims to boost sustainable transport in Italy's motor-centric cities.

It will be held in Italy's leading 'cycling city' of Reggio Emilia and will focus on trying to promote the bicycle as an effective way of getting around Italian cities, and change its status as the country with the highest density of cars in Europe.

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