Cycling has recently become a mainstream mode of urban transportation in developed countries. The many positive reasons why people choose to use their bicycle include the fact that they are environmental friendly, inexpensive, fast, fun and healthy. Focusing attention on the first reason, urban planners have increasingly paid attention to bicycles as an environmentally sustainable substitute to other means of transport since they do not cause pollution, traffic nor noise all the while reducing consumption. The resurgence of collective bicycle sharing points, creation of bike lanes, congestion tax and cycling education in main capitals is witness to this effort to encourage cyclists in place of cars.
According to the research from Euromonitor, China tops in the production of bicycles and invalid carriages. In 2011, Chinese production value exceeded US$ 28.4billion and growth was estimated at 13% year-on-year. It also 4.4 times larger than the runner-up, Indonesia, which dishes out US$ 6.4 billion worth of bicycles each year. The Asia Pacific region and North America were the main destinations for Chinese bicycles, accounting for nearly 40% and 31% of China’s or US$ 3 billion worth of exports. China‘s export growth has remained in double digits for last five years except for 2009 after financial turmoil. The Asia Pacific region is considered as the prime high-growth market, with growth ranging from 16 to 51% in 2011. The Yangtze River Delta Region (Shanghai, Suzhou, Ningbo) and Tianjin area are the major bicycle production hubs which account total over 80% China’s bicycle export.
In terms of purchasing, the US wears the yellow jersey as the largest single country importer for the last 10 years and accounts for over 30% of China’s export except in 2011. In 2011, US imported over US$ 828 million worth bicycles from China which declined 8.7% year-on-year. In terms of bicycle ownership in the US, 45.8% of households are said to own a bicycle. Although this figure is lower than the world average on 53.4% in 2011, the bicycle ownership rate has grown steadily in last 6 years from 43.7% to 45.8%. Elsewhere in the world, Asia Pacific and Western European pedal at around 63% of ownership, topping the ownership rate. Within these two regions, over 80% of households own bicycles in Netherlands (92.4%) , Taiwan (86.6%), Sweden (85.1%), Finland (85.0%), Japan (83.3%) Norway (81.3%) and Germany (81.0%). For the Greater China region, the trend of bicycle ownership is different in mainland China and Taiwan. Cycling was once the most popular form of transportation in China – a country which was known as the “capital of bicycles” in the world. However, this trend switched in the 1990s as more people could afford cars. Thus, the overall trend of household bicycle ownership has been slightly decreasing in the last 6 years. However, some interesting phenomenon has been observed in China’s more developed Eastern regions – say areas around Beijing, Guangdong, and Shanghai - as the trend of household bicycle ownership has followed Western patterns placing ownership from less than 60% to nearly 70% in last 6 years. Similarly, bicycle ownership in Taiwan grew 5% to 86.6% in 2011 and was the highest in Asia Pacific region.
Overall, the combination of initiatives to promote bicycles along with changes in lifestyle has created a trend towards increased bicycle purchases. Yet, in order to continue to promote cycling for work or leisure, manufacturers must play their role to assure high quality of bicycles.
“The high quality bicycle test takes numerous things into account, including product safety, functionality, durability, handling, workmanship and corrosion,” indicates Benson Guo, a senior expert from TÜV Rheinland . “For bicycles, we are not only concerned about mechanical safety, but also chemical safety of plastic and metal components that come in to contact with the rider‘s skin as well as regular factory audits to monitor that manufacturer’s production process meets the highest technical and CSR standards for the buyers. Our TÜV Rheinland GS Mark is only granted if the product is in line with all of the requirements”. With the newly establish bicycle testing laboratory located in Kunshan, China‘s largest bicycle production hub near Shanghai, the world leading testing house can support bicycle and e-bike manufacturers to obtain the GS Mark, TUV Mark or any other relevant certification to export their products to American, European and Asia Pacific markets.
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