US bike boom of 1965–1975: The period of 1965–1975 saw adult cycling increase sharply in popularity — with Time magazine calling it "the bicycle's biggest wave of popularity in its 154-year history" The period was followed by a sudden fall in sales, resulting in a large inventory of unsold bicycles. Seven million bicycles were sold in the U.S. in 1970. Of those, 5½ million were children's bikes, 1.2 million were coaster brake,balloon-tired adult bicycles, and only 200,000 were lightweight 3-speed or derailleur-equipped bikes. Total bicycle sales had doubled by 1972 to 14 million — with children's bikes remaining constant at 5½ million, adult balloon-tired bicycles falling to about 1/2 million, and lightweight bicycles exploding forty fold, to 8 million. Time Magazine reported in 1971 that "for the first time since the 1890s, nearly one-half of all bicycle production" was "geared for adults."
The boom received a kick start in the mid 60s with the advent of the Schwinn Sting-Ray and other wheelie bikes. Sales reached 4 million units per year for the first time. At the height of the boom, in 1972, 1973, and 1974, more bicycles than automobiles were sold in the U.S.Additional factors contributing to the U.S. bike boom included affordable racing bicycles becoming widely available and versatile 10-speed derailleur-geared available, the arrival of many post-World War II baby boomers at adulthood and demanding inexpensive transportation for recreation and exercise, increasing interest in reducing pollution, and the 1973 oil crisis, which increased the cost of driving an automobile, making bicycle commuting a more attractive option.
Following is a list of the bare necessities required to get started bike commuting:
- A bicycle. Any reliable bike will do, so long as it’s appropriately geared for the terrain. Puncture proof tires (or tire liners) are a good idea.
- Lights. A set of small, modern LED lights is sufficient.
- A repair kit. It’s good to carry a small multi-tool, a patch kit, a small pump, and a spare tube for those inevitable roadside repairs. It’s a good idea to practice a couple of flat repairs at home prior to hitting the road.
- A lock. A high-quality U-lock is a must. Even if a person has secure bike parking, it’s good to carry a lock for shopping, meetings, etc.
- A way to carry things. This could be as simple as a small backpack or as elaborate as a set of touring panniers. My favorite for everyday use is a simple grocery pannier.
- Motivation. The most important element is the desire to get out of the car and do a good thing for oneself and the planet.
That’s about it. Of course, a person can get much more elaborate if they so choose, but the fact is, bike commuting is a simple activity that doesn’t require much in the way of specialized equipment or training.