The Rise of Bike Culture

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The bicycle: a humble mode of transportation for some, a source of fun for many, and a machine whose history goes back nearly two hundred years.

In 1817, Baron von Drais invented the first, but it lacked pedals.

About forty years later, in 1858, pedals appeared on a similar machine called the velocipede.

By 1884, the bicycle as we know it today was invented by Thomas Stevens.

And a decade later, the bloomer costume was re-introduced, giving women the freedom to ride.

Bicycles grew more and more popular; that is, until the rise of the car in 1898.

But in the 1970s, things started to shift again. Bicycles outsold cars, 13 million to 10 million. It was called a “bike boom.”

Fast-forward to the present, and bikes aren’t just popular; they’re serious business.

Bicycle rights groups exist in every major U.S. urban area and cities now scramble to be the most bike-friendly; setting up everything from bike shares to bike lanes to mandatory bike storage rooms in places like Minneapolis. Some call it the rise of bicycle culture.

For those who’ve been entrenched in the bike world over the decades, it’s been quite a journey. Charlie McCorkell is among them. He’s been biking around Manhattan since the 1960s. And in the seventies, he opened what’s become one of New York’s most popular bike shops: Bicycle Habitat, in Soho.