A bicycle consists of a frame mounted on two wire-spoked wheels one behind the other with handlebars for steering, a saddlelike seat and pedals by which it is propelled. It is the most efficient human-powered means of transportation, with the ability to carry more cargo than a motor vehicle. It can be used for recreation, travel or sport.
Bicycling is a fun and affordable way to get exercise and explore the outdoors. It is easy to start with low intensity and work up to a demanding physical workout, depending on your goal. Cycling can help to improve strength, stamina and cardiovascular health and it can also increase your flexibility and balance. Cycling is a great alternative for people who are unable to run because of injuries or conditions like arthritis.
Unlike motor vehicles, bicycles do not pollute the environment and they require very little fuel to operate. A recent study in Europe found that replacing a car trip with a bike trip can reduce a person’s carbon footprint by 67%.
In the past, many of the world’s most significant innovations have been driven by bicycle technology, including in agriculture, engineering and the military. Bicycles have shaped cultural attitudes and lifestyles, as well as contributing to scientific and industrial progress.
The first bicycle was developed by German Baron Karl von Drais in 1816, who called his machine a draisine. His invention opened the door to urbanization, as it allowed families to escape cramped tenements in city centers and commute into suburban homes. It also greatly reduced dependence on horses and made travel three to four times faster than walking. In the early 1900s, British bicycle manufacturer J. K. Starley established production methods that led to the development of advanced metalworking and component technologies later used in airplanes and automobiles.
Using modern materials, the weight of a modern bicycle has been reduced to nearly that of a child’s model. This has contributed to the growth of cycling as a leisure activity and a form of exercise for people of all ages and fitness levels. It is also a popular mode of transport in cities and other urban areas, as it can alleviate traffic congestion and parking problems while providing an environmentally friendly and cost-effective method of traveling.
Cycling can also be a beneficial physical activity for people with chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. The repetitive motions of riding a bicycle help to stimulate the muscles and joints, increasing blood circulation and decreasing fat deposits. Regular cycling has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and can even aid in the treatment of depression. However, cyclists must be careful to use the proper posture and technique to avoid injury. This is especially important in children, who are more likely to suffer from overuse injuries than older adults. The most common overuse injury is a stress fracture, which can be caused by repetitive strain or a fall. Other types of overuse injury include tendinitis, bursitis and a herniated disc.