The Demise of the Bicycle

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Yesterday, I had an appointment in Pasing. In Google Maps, it said that it is about 20 kilometres from Unterhaching to my destination. Consequently, I started out early enough.

Of course I, again, arrived too early at the meeting point, the Pasing-Arcaden. I had more than 20 minutes at my disposal. Then I saw a note telling me that there was an exhibition “History of the Velo” (Geschichte des Velos) at the Pasing Arkaden. Well, that sounded tempting. Incidentally, I can highly recommend this exhibition. You will find beautiful objects and informative texts.

However, the exhibition will close after May, 25th – that is tomorrow. So you would have to be quick if you want to go and see it. For me, the most interesting thing was information about the role the bicycle played after the war.

It was about the decline in the use of bicycles during the 1950ies and 1960ies, regardless of the fact that it was definitely de facto superior to all other means of transportation – and not just in the city.

They identified two main reasons for this demise:

  • Riding a bike is how the poor practice mobility!
    In times of the German economic miracle, motorization was synonymous for wealth. Owning a motorbike or later a mini car – not to mention the limousine – was a symbol for prosperity. I can only assume that it was either the consequence of superior marketing technology, or else of a newly developed attitude towards life prevalent in the now economic miracle country Germany. Probably a little of both.
  • Riding a bike will only give you technological problems!
    It said that one of the main reasons for this is that people often buy cheap bicycles as offered by department stores and discount markets. Those are (naturally) low quality, but still they are bought more often than the real quality bicycles. And then all you get is technological problems.

Well, who would volunteer for this: being considered poor and having nothing but technological problems!

Again, you see the mechanism. Marketing creates values and emotions and then the cheap cult is executed. Eventually, this is detrimental for all of us.

(Translated by EG)


I took the picture from the central media archive Wikimedia Commons.

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