While Giant Bicycles of Taiwan reports amazing growth during 2008, and exports from all of Taiwan's bike vendors to North America grew 19% in volume and 20% in value, Bike Europe seems bearish on the 2009 bicycle market in Europe. Because of a drop in consumer confidence amid gloomy economic news in Europe, bike vendors aren't quite sure what to expect for 2009.
Other factors include a stronger Taiwan dollar and higher material costs for vendors. “Although prices of aluminum and carbon fiber have been more stable recently, compared with three years ago, they have increased nearly three-fold,” says Giant spokesman Jeffrey Sheu.
In the meantime, there's plenty of low hanging fruit to pick in the United States, which lags behind much of the rest of the developed world in encouraging bicycling for transportation.
Commuters in Northern Europe have been lured out of their cars by bike lanes, secure bike parking and easy access to mass transportation. At the same time, steep automobile taxes, congestion-zone fees and go-slow rules have made inner-city driving a costly pain in the neck. In the Netherlands, where such carrot-and-stick policies have been in place for decades, 27 percent of all trips are by bike.
"It is very clear how to do this," said John Pucher, a professor of urban planning at Rutgers University and lead author of a global study of strategies that promote cycling. "It is not rocket science."
Has anybody tried Google Chrome yet? I haven't figured out how to easily subscribe to RSS feeds through Chrome, like I can with Firefox or Internet Explorer. Chrome also has a hard time with Flickr -- just logging into Flickr took several tries, and I never was able to upload images through Flickr's web interface with Chrome.