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.
The "high wheel bicycle" (above) was a popular style in the 1870s. The term “bicycle” was not introduced until the 1860s, when it was coined in France to describe a new kind of two-wheeler with a mechanical drive.
Orville and Wilbur Wright, the brothers who built the first flying airplane, operated a small bike repair shop in Dayton, Ohio. (Above is one they built themselves.) They used their workshop to build the 1903 Wright Flyer.
Around the world
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.
Bike population explosion
Bikes were first brought to China in the late 1800s. Today over a half billion bicycles pedal throughout the country.
RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC
About 100 million bicycles are manufactured worldwide each year.
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.
leading the pack
The Tour de France (above) is one of the most famous bicycle races in the world. Established in 1903, it's considered to be the biggest test of endurance out of all sports.
going for gold
ADAPETED FROM BICYCLE: THE HISTORY BY DAVID HERLIHY AND THE WORLD ALMANAC BOOK OF RECORDS: FIRSTS, FEATS, FACTS, AND PHENOMENA BY MARK YOUNG
PHOTOGRAPHS (TOP TO BOTTOM): COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS; DANIEL BORZYNSKI, ALAMY; ROTASOV AN/SHUTTERSTOCK; FREDERIC LEGRAND, COMEO/SHUTTERSTOCK