The trusty bicycle has won the Times Great British Inventions poll with a massive 62% of the vote. Electricity, in second place, got a mere 20% with vaccination, computers/the web and electric light sharing the dribbly leftovers.
As is ever the way, though, the mainstream media’s decided to have a bit of toy/pram exodus, wittering on about “a concerted effort by the cycle lobby”, “claims of vote-rigging” and so on. Note to national newspapers – voting is not the same as vote-rigging…
The victory of the bicycle apparently “dismayed” the panel of experts chosen to deliver their own verdict. The experts went for electricity, which clearly isn’t actually an invention. One of them, the Times’s Anjana Ajuha, wrote, “I could not countenance the bicycle – it has certainly not changed the world as radically as the steam locomotive or the jet engine,” conveniently forgetting that the bicycle was the first affordable form of personal transport and that the Wright brothers ran a bike shop while inventing the aeroplane as a hobby.
Still, it’s not all bad. Dr Lindsay Sharp of the National Museum of Science and Industry said, “The bicycle is a very pure invention, the basic design has remained largely the same for more than a century, it is environmentally friendly and it changed the face of mass transport.”
And the Times’s own leader column comments thus: “In its simplicity the bicycle is a perfect invention. Its basic design has hardly changed since the velocipede. Such changes as the Moulton Mini are British modifications of that basic design. It is clean, quiet and a cheap way of getting around. Its ecological importance is growing as the globe gets warmer. One’s first bicycle is a tribal rite of passage from infancy to childhood. And the variations are endless, from the mountain bike to the Tour de France speed machine. The bicycle is simple and, as an invention, incomparable.”
Couldn’t have put it better ourselves. You can read the full story on Times Online – the other bits are all linked from it.