That's been the case in Australia for a few years. See this CPF media release from 2008 for example.
It makes sense, because they're cheaper and a lot of kids have bikes, so these are taken into account as well. It's a shame that infrastructure development is still (and always will be) biased towards cars.
Yes it is odd that in Australia bicycles outsell cars and yet it doesn't seem to equate to usage. Maybe it is like a gym membership - purchased for the best of intentions, used once and then it's just all too difficult. And as you say all those $80 bicycle shaped objects from K-mart are included in the count which must add a substantial bump to the numbers especially at xmas.
I think in the case of Italy it is not so much a case that bicycle purchases have increased but that car purchases have decreased - the numbers indicate that new car purchases are at levels not seen since the mid 1960s.
Yeah well they would wouldn't they? Just look at the bikes they produce! How can anyone resist? :-))