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The 200th anniversary of the bicycle

Was the invention of the bicycle the result of a climatic catastrophe?

2017 is the 200th anniversary of Baron Karl von Drais first riding his invention of a wooden framed, two-wheel device, with steering that you propelled with your feet on the ground.

Europe had had bad harvests from 1812-15 and the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, in modern-day Indonesia, disrupted weather patterns all over the world and led to Europeans calling 1816 “The Year Without a Summer.”  Crops failed and horses starved and so folklore says that an alternative form of transport was invented to fill the gap.

New forms of transport have changed our whole existence yet they are rarely accepted immediately.

When railways were being developed people said that traveling at such speed would cause seizures.

At the beginning of motor cars, one state in the US had a law that said you had to stop your car and cover it whenever a horse drawn vehicle went past.

In Britain, you had to have someone walking in front of your vehicle carrying a red flag.

The same happened with bicycles.

When roads were too rough to ride on cyclists used footpaths leading to the devices being banned for a period.

Next week we will talk about how bicycles arose from an unlikely other form of assisted movement, how they challenged the social status and created greater equity.

There are many lessons for how we adapt to new transport technologies

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