Cycling History

Scotland invented the bicycle (?)


Back in 2005 the British Broadcasting Corporation invited the listeners of its You and Yours programme to vote for their favourite invention. The winner by a country mile was the humble bicycle, crossing the finish line by a whopping margin, with 59 per cent of the votes cast. The second placed transistor (it was radio listeners who were voting after all) gained just 8 per cent of the vote. For the record I was one of those who voted for the bicycle.

Interestingly the bicycle as we know it today, that is, as a pedal operated, rear-wheel drive machine, owes much to Scotland. Indeed it is Scotland that claims the honour of introducing the pedal-driven bicycle to the world, albeit an honour that is contested. The early decades of the Nineteenth Century had seen the invention and growing popularity of the draisine, or hobby-horse as it was colloquially known in…

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