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Bicycles were introduced in the 19th century and now number about one billion worldwide, twice as many as automobiles. They are the principal means of transportation in many regions. They also provide a popular form of recreation, and have been adapted for such uses as children's toys, adult fitness, military and police applications, courier services and bicycle racing.

The basic shape and configuration of a typical upright bicycle has changed little since the first chain-driven model was developed around 1885. However, many details have been improved, especially since the advent of modern materials and computer-aided design. These have allowed for a proliferation of specialized designs for particular types of cycling.

The invention of the bicycle has had an enormous impact on society, both in terms of culture and of advancing modern industrial methods. Several components that eventually played a key role in the development of the automobile were originally invented for the bicycle – e.g., ball bearings, pneumatic tires, chain-driven sprockets, spoke-tensioned wheels, etc.

Around the turn of the 20th century, bicycles reduced crowding in inner-city tenements by allowing workers to commute from more spacious dwellings in the suburbs. They also reduced dependence on horses. Bicycles allowed people to travel for leisure into the country, since bicycles were three times as energy efficient as walking and three to four times as fast.

In Europe, especially in The Netherlands and parts of Germany and Denmark, commuting by bicycle is very common.
In The Netherlands, all train stations are equipped with provisions for bicycle parking for a small fee and the larger ones also with bicycle repair shops, and cycling is so popular that the parking capacity is sometimes exceeded.
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source: wikipedia

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Additional Photos by Daniel Draghici (dkmurphys) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5753 W: 83 N: 11624] (77526)
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