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Friday Roundup – Bicycle Bits & Pieces

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  • The inventor of the modern “safety bicycle”, JK Starley, gets a birthday card from all cyclists placed on his grave as a thanks for making the world a better place. The billions of bicycles made since the 1890s owe their design to Starley’s original Rover Safety Bicycle. Full PR and more images after the break.
  • For the past 6 months we’ve posted teasers to the inspiring documentary ‘Unstoppables’. The producers of the movie are now on their final push to finish the movie and need your help to see it through.
  • Ram Bikes’ UK dealers are having an end of the year demo sale.
  • If only those Mayan’s knew what sort of discounts they would be generating for us folks in the future…Swiftwick is offering 12% off their TWELVE compression socks with coupon code “HighWater12” until December 21st.
  • Ride The Divide and Reveal The Path want to continue inspiring you to seek adventure and are now offering 30% off their products with code “Holiday30” at checkout.
  • Industry Nine, Asheville Bicycle Racing Club and Liberty Bicycles in Asheville, NC, are having a “Celebrate CX” party this Saturday from 5-8pm with refreshments, discounts, and a raffle supporting Trips For Kids of WNC.
  • Bianchi and Hotel Alexander – a four star hotel located in Italy near the Adriatic Sea – have joined efforts to promote sustainable cycling tourism in Italy by offering Bianchi Sempre bikes in their cycling tour packages. Bianchi plans to expand this program with more high-quality hotels throughout Italy.


PRESS RELEASE: Billions of birthday wishes go out to the inventor of the bicycle

The Bicycle Association of Great Britain is leading the celebrations for today’s birthday of John Kemp Starley, the creator of the 1885 Safety bicycle which is the archetype for almost all of today’s bicycles. Born on 14th December 1854, JK Starley’s creation of the Rover Safety bicycle led to a 1890s bicycle boom, with the Rover Safety bicycle exported around the world, and much copied. Flowers have been left on Starley’s grave in the London Road cemetery in Coventry, with a card reading: “Thanks for introducing the world to the Rover Safety bicycle. Love. Cyclists everywhere.”

Phillip Darnton, executive director of the Coventry-based Bicycle Association, said:

“The worldwide accessibility and popularity of cycling is due, in large part, to the work of JK Starley in the late 19th Century. His Rover Safety revolutionised not just the bicycle but the world. The billions of bicycles made since 1885 can trace their ancestry back to that original ground-breaking machine, tested on the famous flat stretch of London Road on the outskirts of Coventry. It’s an honour to be able to recognise his talents on what would have been his birthday.”

Bicycle industry figures from around the world have joined in the celebrations of JK Starley’s life and achievements. Italian bicycle manufacturer Ernesto Colnago said: “All modern-day bicycle designers owe a huge debt to JK Starley and his vision. Starley’s stroke of genius is an inspiration to us.” American Gary Fisher, one of the founding fathers of mountain biking, said: “A happy birthday to Mr JK Starley! Moving the people in a big way: scope, plan and pulling it off! Big stuff.”

Starley’s birthday is also being celebrated by British members of Parliament. Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge and co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, said: “JK Starley made a huge contribution to cycling, not only improving the safety of bicycles but also increasing their popularity. These early bikes gave people a new found freedom; and now the bicycle is growing in popularity again. More and more people are choosing cycling as a means of transport for commuting to work or purely for pleasure. JK Starley’s legacy continues to live on albeit in a very different age.”

Two bicycle advocacy organisations – which pre-date the creation of the Rover safety – also wished to join in the celebrations. Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, said: “How can you begin to capture and describe the impact of the man whose inventive genius resulted in a product that is effectively the same today as it was more than a century and a quarter ago? Sure, some of the materials used to build bikes have changed, but JK Starley could walk into a bike shop today and ride away on a very familiar machine. That’s a pretty remarkable testimonial to the enduring utility and value of the humble – yet utterly revolutionary – Safety bicycle.”

Roger Geffen, Campaigns & Policy Director at the CTC, said: “Time and again when there are public votes to nominate the greatest British inventions, the bicycle is right up there at the top of the list. It amazes me that this wonderful fusion of technology and simplicity essentially reached its modern form 127 years ago. Yet Starley’s invention still offers a solution for the sustainable future of our civilization.”

Former CTC chief executive Kevin Mayne, now the Development Director at the Brussels-based European Cyclists’ Federation, said:

“It is entirely appropriate that 2012 is the year we revisit Starley’s legacy. Because this is the year that the United Nations installed a Kenyan slum dweller’s bicycle in the lobby of the United Nations building as a symbol of sustainable development. In the developing world Starley’s simple design is a symbol of life, hope and economic potential, just as it has always been. We should never forget that.”

Influential bloggers have also pitched in. Mikael ‘Cyclechic’ Colville-Andersen, CEO of Copenhagenize Consulting said: “I cannot think of any other invention in human history that has had such a major impact on such a broad spectrum of human beings than JK Starley’s bicycle design. I cannot imagine what our world over the past 125 years would be like without it. I shudder at the thought of how the world may have turned out. A truly visionary, society-changing invention and design is one that can simply not be improved. Thank you, Mr Starley.”

Stressing the relevance of cycling for today Malcolm Shepherd, Chief Executive of Sustrans, said:

“JK Starley’s invention turned the bicycle from an impractical contraption into a machine that would go on to transform the daily lives of people across the world. Though in many ways so simple, his invention has stood the test of time for well over a century, and is just – if not more – important in modern society as it has ever been.”

For more about John Kemp Starley, check this article on RoadsWereNotBuiltForCars.com

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