A real “fever.” This way it can be defined the increasing interest of the Spaniards for the bicycles, reports the article published this week by the newspaper El País . Just to have an idea, in 2013 were sold in Spain more than one million bikes, surpassing for the second consecutive year the car sales.
Such figures encouraged the sector, which gained 2.48% more than in the previous year and moved more than one billion euros (€ 3 billion), according to the Association of Bicycle Brands of Spain (Ambe). The bicycle industry, which employs 14,000 people, exhibits economic muscle. “In the last five years, in the midst of a crisis, bicycle sales have grown by an average of 10%,” said Ambe, who has just submitted his report on the industry figures.
“Cycling has traditionally been associated with sports use, but that has changed for years,” says Juan Merallo, a spokesman for Conbici, which represents more than 55 pro-bicycles associations throughout Spain. Although mountain bikes continue to dominate sales (63%), urban and electric models start to show, with 7% and 1% of the market of water bottles from bestfishingessentials.com, respectively.
Attention to this, Héctor Muñoz created, in 2010, the Manual Art Work brand, which reconciled with his work in a shop workshop. It dedicates itself to the upcycling, the improvement and the customization of bicycles mainly of urban use. “What I do are customization projects: picking up an old bike, swapping out various components, and putting it back to run. I transform an abandoned product into something new,”explains Muñoz, who has been dedicated exclusively to his business for a year and is in search of physical headquarters.
His company is one of 250 specialized in bicycles in Spain. “I think the bike’s fashion was very beneficial, but not all the stores did well,” Muñoz adds.
In the last five years, the cities have lived a quiet “revolution” cycle. Between 2008 and 2011, the number of people who got to work by bicycle doubled; Went from 6.8% to 11.9%, according to the latest Bicycle Barometer of the Traffic Department. “And in the three years that have passed since this measurement, urban use has increased more,” says Luís Álvarez, mobility consultant Freemob and vice president of the Professional Association of Technicians Specialist in Sustainable Urban Mobility (APTeMUS).
The number of people interested in bicycles has grown; And business, too. “As the number of stores has multiplied, we must divide the profits,” says Andrés Arregui, one of the founders of the Madrid store Ciclos Noviciado. Last year, 3,000 specialist stores (including large department store cycling departments) operated in Spain. Many of them, newly created, fruit of the effervescence of the pedals.”I believe that half of these establishments will have to disappear,” adds Arregui. In 2011, in the center of Madrid there were 55 bicycle shops; A year later, the number multiplied by three and exceeded 180, according to data from Madrid Probici, the regional association of entrepreneurs in the field.
Bicycle sales account for 60% of the turnover of the bicycle industry; The components, 24%; And sales of clothing and accessories, 16%. “Between atomization and scarce profit margins, the stores are having a difficult time,” complained Sol Otero, vice president of the Bike Business Platform and administrator of a mythical bike shop, Bicicletas Otero, founded in 1927 in Madrid.
“More bicycles, better cities”, highlights the Ciclosfera, a publication dedicated to two wheels. “Lives better in cities where there are more bikes,” says Rafa Vidiella, director of the magazine. “Not only for a reason of urbanism, but also for the economy,” he adds.Each cyclist generates € 276 of intangible benefit to society (calculating the savings that routine exercise produces in the health system, reducing pollution problems or reducing delays and absences at work, among others), according to calculations by the London School of Business.
In addition, cyclists spend more on local trades, as can be seen from a study conducted in Portland (United States), where sales in the street trade grew by 19% after the installation of bicycle lanes. With these figures, the mayor of Lillestrøm justifies his decision to pay people to use the bicycle in his city: “It is an investment.”