Italy likes to bike. The rise of cycle tourism: + 41% in 5 years

Bike sharing-Milan
Bike sharing-Milan

The choice of routes and holidays on two-wheel pedals is becoming more and more common. The point at BikeSummit 2019: “Growth is good, but infrastructure and security are needed”.

There is an Italy pedaling and going further and further. It crosses the land without polluting and helps to enrich the country, both economically and environmentally. This is the Italy of two wheels, where more and more travelers travel by bicycle: in 2018, the number of cyclotourists encountered between accommodation and private residences amounted to 77.6 million, or 8.4% of the whole movement of tourists.

A real boom

This is a real boom: it is estimated that at least 6 million people have spent a holiday cycling and cyclists have increased by 41% between 2013 and today.

At a time when we are looking for strategies to curb climate change and systems for reducing emissions and pollutants also linked to transport, increasing the number of bicycles is a real remedy in environmental terms. And also in economic terms: cyclists generate a value of 7.6 billion euros per year. A figure that brings the current value of so-called GDP of the bike to almost 12 billion euros: that’s the internal product, or the volume generated by those who travel by pedal, from the production of bicycles to cycles vacation.

All this was proudly told in Rome during BikeSummit2019 in the report produced by Isnart-Unioncamere and Legambiente and with the participation of Legambici. The summit emphasized Italian cycling, recalling that it “could make an extraordinary contribution to tourism given the landscape and the territorial context of the country” and underlining that it “is still too underdeveloped”.


According to the report, about 1.85 million tourists each year in Italy bicycle travel a full itinerary, “while those who use it to – to have in tow or rent on site – are about 4, 18 million people” recalls the study.

Added to this is the fact that more than 700,000 urban cyclists use bicycles every day on their commute and bring the total to about 6.73 million people. Also, because of an insufficient bicycle network for the moment, despite the growth, in Italy, we are not yet at the level of other European countries. We have about 440 bikes per thousand inhabitants, while in the Netherlands or Germany this ratio is almost 1 to 1.


Pedaling Italy also contributes to economic growth: 1.3 billion euros per year come from the bicycle manufacturing sector, for more than 1.7 million pieces sold, with a growth of exports of 15.2% (2017 data). The funds are then increased to implement the Italian system of cycle paths: “The current government has indeed confirmed the construction and financing of the cycle lanes system with an allocation of 361.78 million euros for the birth of the national tourist cycle routes system, imagined as a widespread infrastructure that promotes soft mobility and sustainable tourism “, explain the speakers of the summit.

Participants remember, however, that in order to ensure the proper functioning of the bicycle, it is necessary to strengthen road safety: “There is an urgent need to reform the Highway Code, which provides for the definition of a high-cycle road for secondary roads. These mixed traffic roads, more used by cyclists than motor vehicles, require lowering their speed limits and increasing their safety for cycle tourism “.

“A path is defined and it’s a bike lane. It is now necessary to provide our country with a cycling observatory able to produce a data stream that is a valid support for policy decisions and practical and productive solutions in order to continue to operate”.


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