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February 17, 2023 3 min read

We love cycling, and riding our bikes in our adult years (no matter how many!) really does allow us to integrate those feeling of freedom, fun and nostalgia while staying fit and healthy into our daily grinds.

Speaking of nostalgia, have you ever thought about how and when did it all start? How did we (and our bikes) get to here? From the bikes we ride, the kit we were, the gadgets we use right through to the sport we love to follow.

We thought would be really interesting to take a look back in time into the history of cycling in the UK.

1800s - It’s All About The Bike

Technically, the first two-wheeled vehicle was invented in the 1860s by Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick Macmillan - he is generally credited with inventing the two-wheeled machine we all love today. However, Pierre Lallement is considered by some to be the inventor of the pedal bicycle after being the first person to introduce pedals onto the bike, with this discovery enabling the creation of the first modern bicycles.

In 1871 the first Penny farthing was invented in 1871 by British engineer, James Starley, with these bicycles being a huge collector's item now. If you are from Ireland or Northern Ireland then you will probably know that John Boyd Dunlop developed the first ever pneumatic rubber tire in 1887 (originally made for his son’s tricycle). Patented the following year, history has said the rest!

1930 - Britains Forgotten Cycleways

Did you know that there was once over 300 miles of protected cycleways in the UK that have since been buried or hidden? Carlton Reid (Press Gazette's Transport Journalist of the Year, 2018) started up a campaign a couple of years ago to let us NOT forget about these, and to of course bring them back to life!

1947 - Get ready for the Nostalgia….

In 1947 the first Cycle Proficiency Test took place, it was held in place for just seven children only. Then just under ten years later in 1958, the Offical Cycle Proficiency Scheme was launched. There has been growing speculation that due to funding the scheme will be cut - we certainly hope not. It helps develop children's cycling skills, increase their confidence as a cyclist and identify any risks they might come across on the roads.

Do you still have your badge though?

1959 - Let's Make It Official

The following year in 1959, British Cycling was first established through the amalgamation of the National Cyclists Union and the British League of Racing Cyclists. Now the largest cycling organisation in the UK today so here at See.Sense we are honoured to work with them being an official brand partner.

1974 - Let’s Race (Or Just Watch)

In 1974, The Tour de France takes place in the UK for the first time, first televised in 1980. It wasn’t until 1990 that mountain biking became an official worldwide sport. That really doesn’t seem that long ago, right?

1949-1989 - Let's Hear It For The Girls

The Women's Cycle Racing Association was a British organisation which sought to further the cause of women in cycling (Velo UK). In 1949. The same year it organised the first British National Road Race Championships for women took place Then in 1989, the Tour de France introduced the first ever women's one-day event. 

2005 - Millenium Cycling

Since 2005, the proportion of children being driven to school has (sadly) doubled. The good thing is that over 80% of these kids owned bikes. Hopefully they are all still riding today!

In 2010, the city of London saw the introduction of the much loved Boris bikes. Since then, over 17million journies have been made on them (Evans Cycles).

In 2012, Chris Hoy became Britains most successful ever Olympian with 6 gold medals. Bradley Wiggins also became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France, he wins his first Olympic medal and was voted the BBC's Sports Personality Of The Year.

2019 - Let's Make MORE History!

There's still a long way to go in terms of the cycling industry, in particular, the infrastructure and facilities we have here in the UK. When you look at places like Copenhagen - it would be easy to believe that they have always been that way, but they haven't! It took investment and hard work. That’s why we’ve developed technology that sits in a See.Sense light to detect road issues or unsafe routes that cyclists face on their ride.