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And The Winner Is... The Bicycle

By london_dan Last edited 140 months ago
And The Winner Is... The Bicycle
bicycle.jpg

The votes have been counted, the results are in, and the winner has been announced. Nothing to do with tonight's excitement of course, but something that actually matters to people - a survey of the most important inventions of the last 200 years.

BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme have been inviting listeners to vote for their favourite invention since 1800; the winner of which has been named as the humble bicycle.

The bicycle got a landslide 59% of the vote, miles ahead of the transistor and electro-magnetic induction ring (erm..whatever that is) both with only 8%, and the computer with 6%. Radio got just 5% of the vote, and the internet came in 7th with a miserable 4%.

According to the original Nutty Professor Heinz Wolff:

The first 'bicycle' was made of wood and invented in 1818 by Baron Karl de Drais de Sauerbrun.

In 1868 there came the 'boneshaker'. It was very heavy but also very popular.

Perhaps the bicycle's most important legacy is its effect upon some women's emancipation. In the 1890s, women some women found they could cast off their impractical and uncomfortable clothing in favour of pantaloons. Outraged men claimed that the bicycle would allow women to travel beyond their usual geographical limits and away from the surveillance of their men folk.

Today, over one billion people in the world use bicycles and the bicycle is the principal means of transportation in many parts of the world.

Further reading: Tfl Cycling, London Cycling Campaign, Sustrans.

Last Updated 05 May 2005

Mike

Such a device has recently arrived in Deadwood:

Merrick: In the French it's called a velocipede, meaning "Go Swiftly into the World."

Tom Nuttal: This is the Gent's Boneshaker model, and the French can stay the fuck out of it.

roger

Actually the big contribution of the bicycle is that it meant that for the first time, the young were not bound to marry only from within their own village. The young men could cycle off and date women from a much wider radius than before (e.g. the village 5 miles away). The gene pool started spreading around and "improving" since then. There have been very few village idiots since then but clearly the bicycle came to Austin, Texas, much later.