Podcast: the future of the bike is bright

Is the bicycle’s comeback about to pick up speed? The answer is yes, according to BBC program 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy.

Bikes are the feature of the most recent episode of the program which tells the stories of inventions and products that have helped shape the economic world.

The episode, available as a podcast, starts with a tale about Frenchman Pierre Lallement crashing his bike in front of a couple of Americans who had never seen such a machine.

It then goes on to detail the history of the bicycle, including how in 1896 it led to being called the thing that has “done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”

Fast forward to the modern era and it talks about a program in India where female children are given bicycles to help them get to school.

Basketball superstar Le Bron James also gets a mention – he has a charity that gives students free bikes so they can do something that he loved doing as a child.

“Me and my friends, when we got on our bikes, we would just ride. We felt like we were on top of the world,” Le Bron once said.

We also hear about how bicycles influenced car manufacturing, but have never been defeated by four-wheeled motor-driven machines.

Bicycle production is outpacing that of cars and public bike share schemes are successfully running all around the world, giving people access to personal transport without having to own a vehicle.

“It’s tempting to view the bicycle as the technology of the past, (but) the data shows otherwise,” says program host Tim Harford.

We certainly agree!

If you'd like to know more about how the bike came to be, you can read Bicycle Network's history of the bicycle here.

Click here to listen to the program in Apple podcasts

Click here to listen to the program on the BBC website

Image credit: BBC/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

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