As cities across the world seek to ease congestion and attract young professionals through investment in bicycle infrastructure, bike use is surging. "Portland hipsters are taking to the streets on fixies, east Londoners are dusting off vintage Raleighs and Sydney corporates are swapping golf clubs for lycra… As a result, the growth in cycling numbers has been immense in many cities worldwide," says Payne.
But unlike America's ‘bike boom’ of the late 60s and early 70s, which saw bike sales increase from 2.5 to 15 million between 1963-73, Payne thinks the current period of growth is sustainable. "We’re aware that we can no longer keep producing without recycling, we can no longer all own large homes, and we can no longer all drive to work – not only do our cars not all fit in our cities, but we are also running out of the very resource that drives them," he notes.
"The car will not simply disappear and bicycles will not suddenly take over our streets. But as we look for alternative solutions to our current transport woes, cycling is suddenly looking like a pretty smart option. Rather than just a fad, I’d argue that today’s boom will be sticking about for a while. Just like the revolution of a wheel, we are perhaps, returning to where it all began."