Bike and scooter sales speed up

Are two wheels better than four? If we're talking sales, definitely. The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) claims scooter sales soared 12% in 2011 while 125cc bike sales climbed even higher - a 20% rise.

Rising petrol costs and surging inflation - not to mention stupid parking prices - have clearly ignited bike and scooter sales (though some councils are already charging for motorcycle parking).

Cheap, quick, speedy

Let's take a look at the phenomenon further. For big cities like London, there's no congestion charge. The cost of a moped is around the price of an annual London travel card, for example. So you're likely to break even pretty quickly. And the running costs - particularly insurance - are a fraction of those demanded by a car.

Gary Thomas from Scootering magazine told the Guardian it's mostly about costs. "It is often two-car households who have decided that one of them will trade their car in for a scooter. The congestion charge also has an impact on people's decision, as does the price of petrol."

Sales of the high popular Honda PCX 125 soared from 765 in 2010 to more than 2,000 in 2011.

Safety record improves

But fuel consumption - though vastly better than most cars - on a lot of bikes still isn't that great considering the huge weight benefits they enjoy compared to cars. There are other downsides too: safety worries and the disproportionate amount of noise they add to the environment.

Yet the figures speak for themselves. Have a look at the box below. Bigger bikes (over 1,000cc) saw a 18.1% sales rise in December while in the 51-125cc bracket, there was a 55% surge. Just as interesting, despite the surge in motorcycle sales in the last decade, safety is also improving.

The Department for Transport saw 589 motorbike fatalities on UK roads in 2001, spiking with 693 in 2003. This amount reduced by to 403 (the latest year we have figures) in 2010. A massive 41% drop. See below.

Dec 2011 and year-to-date comparisions for New Registrations by Engine Band

Department of Transport bike fatalities (far right column)

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