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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - High oil prices fuel Phnom Penh bicycle sales

High oil prices fuel Phnom Penh bicycle sales

High oil prices fuel Phnom Penh bicycle sales

Sales of bicycles are soaring, with high fuel prices convincing a growing number of people that the time is right to switch to pedal power and save money.

And consumers who make the change say they also appreciate the health benefits from riding a bicycle.

Chhum Sophorn, 52, who has a bicycle shop at O'Russei market, said he is enjoying the best sales since 1992-1993, when the country was administered by the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia.

"I've been selling more than 100 bicycles a month since early this year, up from 40 to 60 a month previously," Sophorn said.

"I think more people are making the change to bicycles in order to save money or to better balance their household budget," he said, adding that his customers come from Phnom Penh and the provinces.

Mey Saray, 31, another bicycle seller at O'Russei market, said he was also achieving sales of more than 100 a month, up about 66 percent from a year ago.

He said that in the past his best months for sales have been September and October, when parents buy bicycles for their children at the start of new school year.

Saray and Sophorn said they sell bicycles made in Japan which cost between $35 and $60.

"All bicycles are imported from Japan because they are good quality," Saray said.

Sovan Philong, 23, says he is saving about $10 a month - and feeling much fitter - since he began using a bicycle instead of his motorbike.

"I bought the bicycle last month for $25 because I could not afford to continue using my motorbike with fuel prices so high," said Philong, a video producer at Catholic Social Communications.

Philong admitted that the transition had been physically challenging.

"The first time it was difficult because riding the bicycle made me tired and I was late for work," he said. "But now I'm more comfortable with it and I'm healthier."

Security guard Chea Buntheoun, 25, was shopping for a bicycle at O'Russei market last week after high fuel prices forced him to sell his motorbike.

"I sold my motor to my aunt because I can no longer afford the cost of fuel," said Buntheoun, who earns $60 a month.

"I use a liter a day and now that fuel is more than 5,000 riels a liter I can't afford to buy it any more," he said.

Gasoline prices continue to climb on the back of spiraling global oil costs - topping more than 5,200 riels per liter recently.

But Buntheoun said he intended to buy another motorbike if fuel prices go down.

"Riding a motor is easier and faster than a bicycle," he said.

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