The bicycle freed women and the young working class to roam free, and led to advances in manufacturing. Has the bike had its day, or is it a technology whose best years lie ahead?
On an early cycle ride, the bicycle engineer Pierre Lallement was mistaken for the devil: he did appear to be a strange centaur-like creature, and he was flying downhill at speed while screaming. Bicycle brakes had, after all, not yet been invented. The bicycle was to prove transformative. Cheaper than a horse, it freed women and young working class people to roam free. And the bike was the testing for countless improvements in manufacturing that would later lead to Henry Ford’s production lines. Tim Harford considers whether the bicycle has had its day – or whether it’s a technology whose best years lie ahead.
Producer: Ben Crighton
Editor: Richard Vadon