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Bicycle travel became an alternative to riding the subway after Tokyo residents were hit by power outages in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake. Asahi Co. reported a 200 percent increase in bike sales in the Kanto region, tripling the company’s revenues.
Further growth is seen for the industry because oil prices are rising, according to President Susumu Shimoda. “In addition to the disorder in the public transportation system, rising gasoline prices are also boosting the demand for bicycles,” said Akinori Sato, an analyst at Daiwa Securities Capital Markets Co. “This isn’t a phenomenon for just the Kanto region, but for the whole country,” he added.
Increases in bike sales helped other companies as well. Shimano Inc., maker of bicycle gears and breaks, gained 4.7 percent after the earthquake. Giant, a Taiwanese company, sold 90,000 bicycles in 2010 and is expecting a 10 percent rise this year.
Nevertheless, Jeffrey Sheu, a spokesman of Giant, forecast that quake’s impact on the company’s sales will probably be short term. [Bloomberg]