Sales in many bicycle shops are racing 200% ahead of last year's level, and delivery dates for new merchandise are uncertain. Complains Gano Thomas of San Francisco's Nomad Cyclery: "The factories aren't making bicycles fast enough. If we order 100 bikes, we're lucky to get 25."What's especially fascinating to me: This article was published in Time Magazine in 1971. This was at the height of the 'bike boom' in the 70s. In 1971, about 7.5 million adult bicycles were sold, with a record high of just over 15 million bikes sold in 1973. Compare that to the 8.5 million adult bikes sold in 2005 in the United States.
The shortage results from the bicycle's biggest wave of popularity in its 154-year history. Environmentalists are turning to the bike as a pollution solution; physical-fitness fans like the bike as a heart preserver. Groups of workers in some traffic-choked cities have been staging rush-hour races among car, bus and bicycle, with the bike usually triumphant.