So, more than "100 million Americans own bicycles," the majority of which were made in China, and which apparently are used mainly as "garage fill." Hmmm. China builds our bike; we shove it to the back of the "stuff" pile, and then hop into the SUV to go 5 blocks for groceries. What gives?
A quick look at sporting goods section of any major retail outlet provides a clue. What sells in the mass market is the cheap mountain bike, even in areas that have no hills at all. Many have heavy steel frames, gaudy paint jobs, pop culture decals, and extra heavy shock absorbers. This segment of bicycle marketing in America, in essence, is the two-wheeled version of the way-too much-horsepower with "spoiler" idiom that dominates the auto industry. Perhaps this is because parents, who themselves never ride, buy the cheap-hot looking ones for their kids, imagining that the racing look is what they'd prefer.
Go to a dedicated bicycle store and you'll likely see an entirely different scene; a balance of road bikes, "hybrids", "commuter bikes" (like you'd see in a European city), and high performance mountain bikes.
It would be interesting to segment the marketing and usage stats into the numbers bought by serious riders who buy from dedicated bicycle stores versus those who purchase them from mass market retailers. That, we suspect, would show a very different picture. Another stat that would be even more revealing, we think, would be to compare per-capita sales of bicycle racks by nation, differentiating the importance of recreational versus everyday use.