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Bicycles Outsell Cars for the First Time in Spain

Riding a bike in Spain has become more common that driving a car according to recent reports. 

Across Spain, the latest cycle industry figures show 780,000 people opting for two wheels, making up about 4% of Europe's total, compared to 700,000 cars sold.

These figures might be considered by some as a sign of the ongoing recession that has hit Spain, leaving it with more than 25% of its workforce unemployed, rising to 56% among young people. Could it be that with so many people out of work, they can no longer afford to use a car?

Rafael Quereda, 58, opened his first bike shop in the heart of Madrid 18 months ago, when he lost his job at a graphic design company after 25 years. "After I was sacked I was trying to find something to do and because I'm old, there wasn't much work about. But I saw that people had really started to use bicycles and that there was a market."

With the Raise of the public transport prices as Quereda explained business such as his are getting customers each day.

"All types of people come in, young and old, some want a new bike, some bring in the bicycles they've had stored in the garage for 30 years to be repaired." A few of the bicycles brought into his shop next to Retiro Park resemble medieval contraptions, adds Quereda, "but that's not a problem".

However for the car sector it is not such great news. On Paseo de la Castellana at the SEAT car showroom we find a completely different story.

"We need to be selling a million cars a year in Spain," said Federico Suárez Leco, commercial director of Castellana Motor, meaning the country is 30% below its target. "In 2007, we sold 390 individual cars [excluding company cars] a year, but in 2012 it was down to around 300." And this is one of Seat's biggest showrooms in Madrid. The story is much worse across the capital and the country, said Suárez. "Lots of showrooms are closing all the time."

Does this mean the future of car show rooms and manufacturing plants is shakey? Should employees working in the car sales industry be worried about the new 2-wheeled trend in Spain? For now, there is no need to panic. But if workers and the unemployed continue to opt for cycling over running a car in Spain, car sales people may need to find a more secure career. 


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