The bicycle* was perfected in Britain, first in 1818 when a German invention was modified, patented and – briefly – popularised, and then in the early 1870s with the evolution of English high-wheelers. The creation of the “Safety” bicycle by J. K. Starley in the 1880s “set the fashion to the world,” leading to a global boom in bicycle ownership. Starley’s 1885 machine has most of the classic hallmarks of a modern bicycle.
Even though cycling is more than 200 years old it has a secure future because of its beautiful simplicity. Cycling has always been, and will remain, a swift, clean, and practical way to navigate British towns and cities.
* It’s important to note that the word “bicycle” was not in use until 1868 or so, and that the machine invented in 1817 by Baron von Drais in Germany was without cranks and pedals and was therefore not a pedal-bicycle as we know it. Nevertheless, the modern bicycle has many of the same characteristics of this foundational machine – two singletrack equally-sized wheels being the most important – and therefore today’s bicycle, while propelled differently, is a direct descendent of the “Draisine”.
And for the removal of doubt the word “bicycle” on this website also refers to cycles with more or less than two wheels, such as tricycles, quadricyles and unicycles.