I could not find specific mention of motorcycles generally being more efficient in Europe than they are in the United States, and I believe part of this is that particular makes of motorcycles seem to have wider distribution patterns than cars do–meaning, you may be slightly less likely to be driving a motorcycle manufactured in your own country than you are a car. Also, there is a significant debate about whether motorcycles are more fuel efficient than cars. Raw figures on fuel consumption and gas mileage are tricky when applied to motorcycles because they often depend on where you drive them (city, country) and how fast. Generally speaking, motorcycles don’t get as good fuel efficiency as cars do when you’re talking about normal travel and commuting, although motorcycle manufacturers such as Kawasaki have lately been pushing their products as a more “green” alternative to cars.
What I think can be said about European motorcycle usage, however, is that there are a lot more smaller motorbikes in Europe–scooters, essentially–that are used heavily in compact cities like Rome, Berlin and Paris. Indeed, in Rome you’re likely to see significantly more scooters on the road than cars, largely a function not merely of fuel economy but of the impossibility of finding a parking place for a car in Rome (also a reason for the rise of the Smart Car, which was specifically designed to thwart parking shortages). You don’t often see scooter commuting in the US because our cities are much more spread out geographically, with the exception of a few places like Manhattan or the central districts of Chicago and San Francisco. So, from that standpoint, the Europeans who travel on two wheels are likely to be more efficent on the whole than Americans who do, but that’s because they’re driving different kinds of bikes under different conditions than we usually have here.
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