Thanks to the Vancouver Bicycle Club for these 9 interesting facts, which they in turn took from "Bicycle: The History," by David Herlihy, and from "The World Almanac Book of Records: Firsts, Feats, Facts & Phenomena," by Mark Young.
1. In 1817, Karl von Drais, a German baron, invented a horseless carriage that would help him get around faster. The two-wheeled, pedal-less device was propelled by pushing your feet against the ground. The machine became known as the "draisine," and led to the creation of the modern-day bicycle.
2. The term "bicycle" was not introduced until 1860s when it was coined in France to describe a new kind of two-wheeler with a mechanical drive. The French borrowed from the Greek word, "cyclos," which means "circle."
3. Orville and Wilbur Wright, the brothers who built the first flying airplane, operated a small bike repair shop in Dayton, Ohio. They used their workshop to build the 1903 bike "The Wright Flyer."
4. Fred A. Birchmore, 25, circled the globe by bicycle in 1935. The entire trip, through Europe, Asia, and the United States, covered 40,000 miles. He pedaled about 25,000 miles. The rest was traveled by boat. He wore out seven sets of tires. (Only seven sets.)
5. There are over a half billion bicycles in China. Bikes were first brought to China in the late 1800s.
6. About 100 million bicycles are manufactured worldwide each year. (And not one of them made in the USA---could that be true?)
7. Over the past 30 years, bicycle delivery services have developed into an important industry, especially in cities, where the couriers have earned a reputation for their high speed and traffic-weaving skills.
8. Americans use their bicycles for less than 1% of all urban trips. Europeans bike in cities a lot more often: In Italy 5% of all trips are on bicycle, 30% in the Netherlands, and 7 out of 8 Dutch people over age 15 have a bike.
9. Bicycle Moto Cross (BMX), an extreme style of bicycle track racing, became a sport in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Maris Strombergs, of Latvia, won the gold medal for Men's BMX, and Anne-Caroline Chausson, of France, won the gold in the women's event.