THANKS FOR BILLIONS OF BIKES: JK STARLEY BIRTHDAY PRESS MATERIALS

December 14th is JK Starley’s birthday. John Kemp is the creator of the Safety bicycle, one of the key inventions of the last 150 years. Thanks to him billions of bikes have been sold around the world since 1885. The Bicycle Association of GB decided to celebrate his achievements: flowers and a card have been left on his grave in Coventry, saying thanks from all cyclists.

Feel free to use any of the words below, and mix and match the quotes to suit your audience. NOT FOR PUBLICATION BEFORE 00:01, 14th December, UK time.

Hi-res photographs can be found below (click to biggify). All are creative commons. Please don’t link to this page, it’s for text and file storage only. Pertinent links can be found below. Thanks. Carlton Reid. + 00 191 2652062

CONTENTS
Press release
Quotes from bike industry figures from around the world
JK Starley history
URLs for link love
Pix
Coverage to date

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14th December 2012

PRESS RELEASE

Billions of birthday wishes go out to the inventor of the bicycle

The Bicycle Association of Great Britain is leading the celebrations for today’s birthday of John Kemp Starley, the creator of the 1885 Safety bicycle which is the archetype for almost all of today’s bicycles. Born on 14th December 1854, JK Starley’s creation of the Rover Safety bicycle led to a 1890s bicycle boom, with the Rover Safety bicycle exported around the world, and much copied. Flowers have been left on Starley’s grave in the London Road cemetery in Coventry, with a card reading: “Thanks for introducing the world to the Rover Safety bicycle. Love. Cyclists everywhere.”

Phillip Darnton, executive director of the Coventry-based Bicycle Association, said:

“The worldwide accessibility and popularity of cycling is due, in large part, to the work of JK Starley in the late 19th Century. His Rover Safety revolutionised not just the bicycle but the world. The billions of bicycles made since 1885 can trace their ancestry back to that original ground-breaking machine, tested on the famous flat stretch of London Road on the outskirts of Coventry. It’s an honour to be able to recognise his talents on what would have been his birthday.”

Bicycle industry figures from around the world have joined in the celebrations of JK Starley’s life and achievements. Italian bicycle manufacturer Ernesto Colnago said: “All modern-day bicycle designers owe a huge debt to JK Starley and his vision. Starley’s stroke of genius is an inspiration to us.” American Gary Fisher, one of the founding fathers of mountain biking, said: “A happy birthday to Mr JK Starley! Moving the people in a big way: scope, plan and pulling it off! Big stuff.”

Starley’s birthday is also being celebrated by British members of Parliament. Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge and co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, said: “JK Starley made a huge contribution to cycling, not only improving the safety of bicycles but also increasing their popularity. These early bikes gave people a new found freedom; and now the bicycle is growing in popularity again. More and more people are choosing cycling as a means of transport for commuting to work or purely for pleasure. JK Starley’s legacy continues to live on albeit in a very different age.”

Two bicycle advocacy organisations – which pre-date the creation of the Rover safety – also wished to join in the celebrations. Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, said: “How can you begin to capture and describe the impact of the man whose inventive genius resulted in a product that is effectively the same today as it was more than a century and a quarter ago? Sure, some of the materials used to build bikes have changed, but JK Starley could walk into a bike shop today and ride away on a very familiar machine. That’s a pretty remarkable testimonial to the enduring utility and value of the humble – yet utterly revolutionary – Safety bicycle.”

Roger Geffen, Campaigns & Policy Director at the CTC, said: “Time and again when there are public votes to nominate the greatest British inventions, the bicycle is right up there at the top of the list. It amazes me that this wonderful fusion of technology and simplicity essentially reached its modern form 127 years ago. Yet Starley’s invention still offers a solution for the sustainable future of our civilization.”

Former CTC chief executive Kevin Mayne, now the Development Director at the Brussels-based European Cyclists’ Federation, said:

“It is entirely appropriate that 2012 is the year we revisit Starley’s legacy. Because this is the year that the United Nations installed a Kenyan slum dweller’s bicycle in the lobby of the United Nations building as a symbol of sustainable development. In the developing world Starley’s simple design is a symbol of life, hope and economic potential, just as it has always been. We should never forget that.”

Influential bloggers have also pitched in. Mikael ‘Cyclechic’ Colville-Andersen, CEO of Copenhagenize Consulting said: “I cannot think of any other invention in human history that has had such a major impact on such a broad spectrum of human beings than JK Starley’s bicycle design. I cannot imagine what our world over the past 125 years would be like without it. I shudder at the thought of how the world may have turned out. A truly visionary, society-changing invention and design is one that can simply not be improved. Thank you, Mr Starley.”

Stressing the relevance of cycling for today Malcolm Shepherd, Chief Executive of Sustrans, said:

“JK Starley’s invention turned the bicycle from an impractical contraption into a machine that would go on to transform the daily lives of people across the world. Though in many ways so simple, his invention has stood the test of time for well over a century, and is just – if not more – important in modern society as it has ever been.”

ENDS


TRIBUTES FROM THE WORLD OF BICYCLING

“How can you begin to capture and describe the impact of the man whose inventive genius resulted in a product that is effectively the same today as it was more than a century and a quarter ago? Sure, some of the materials used to build bikes have changed, but JK Starley could walk into a bike shop today and ride away on a very familiar machine! That’s a pretty remarkable testimonial to the enduring utility and value of the humble – yet utterly revolutionary – Safety bicycle.”
Andy Clarke, president, League of American Bicyclists

“Time and again when there are public votes to nominate the greatest British inventions, the bicycle is right up there at the top of the list. It amazes me that this wonderful fusion of technology and simplicity essentially reached its modern form 127 years ago. Yet Starley’s invention still offers a solution for the sustainable future of our civilization.”
Roger Geffen, Campaigns & Policy Director, CTC

“I wonder if JK Starley knew that future generations would have so much fun with a bicycle? The joy of seeing every child’s first ride without training wheels and their first look at “independence” would probably have made him quite fulfilled. I believe his vision has changed the planet, especially to each and every one of us who has thrown a leg over a bicycle and fallen in love with that feeling we get while riding one.”
Don Walker, President, North American Handmade Bicycle Show

“It is entirely appropriate that 2012 is the year we revisit Starley’s legacy. Because this is the year that the United Nations installed a Kenyan slum dweller’s bicycle in the lobby of the United Nations building as a symbol of sustainable development. In the developing world Starley’s simple design is a symbol of life, hope and economic potential, just as it has always been. We should never forget that.”
Kevin Mayne, Development Director, European Cyclists’ Federation

“JK Starley revolutionised cycling in the late 1800s and his invention is a significant chapter in the history of the bicycle.”
Brian Cookson OBE, President, British Cycling

“Many people get called geniuses, but JK Starley really was one. His bike popularised cycling for all, created the bike boom of the 1890s and led to cycling spreading around the world. He brought thousands of jobs to Coventry and even made an electric car in the 1880s: he was more than a century ahead of his time!”
Ian Austin MP, co-chair, All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group

“JK Starley’s invention turned the bicycle from an impractical contraption into a machine that would go on to transform the daily lives of people across the world. Though in many ways so simple, his invention has stood the test of time for well over a century, and is just – if not more – important in modern society as it has ever been.”
Malcolm Shepherd, Chief Executive of Sustrans

“JK Starley made a huge contribution to cycling, not only improving the safety of bicycles but also increasing their popularity. These early bikes gave people a new found freedom; and now the bicycle is growing in popularity again. More and more people are choosing cycling as a means of transport for commuting to work or purely for pleasure. JK Starley’s legacy continues to live on albeit in a very different age.”
Julian Huppert MP, co-chair, All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group

“John Kemp Starley, with his 1885 Rover safety, a diamond in the rough, brought bicycling to the masses. The die was cast. A few years later, once the steed was shod with Dunlop’s tires, bicycling and its Golden Age craze wrapped around the globe. Over a century later, we remain in awe of the virtues of the bicycle — the most efficient form of transport ever devised. Simple and dignified, absolutely for the ages. Thank you and happy birthday, Mr. Starley.”
Joe Breeze, USA, one of the founding fathers of mountain biking

“The Safety bicycle had a huge impact upon western settlement of Australia. Gold miners, shearers and all sorts of adventurers covered amazing distances across outback Australia by bicycle, long before roads were built.”
Phil Latz, director, Bicycling Australia

“A happy birthday to Mr JK Starley! Moving the people in a big way: scope, plan and pulling it off! Big stuff. I want a repeat!”
Gary Fisher, USA, one of the founding fathers of mountain biking

“Despite repeated attempts by designers, engineers, and inventors to reinvent the bicycle, its basic form has not changed all that much in the last 125 years. In the mid 1880s, JK Starley set out to improve upon the design of the dangerous and impractical ordinaries that were common at the time, and the result was the first commercially successful safety bike. The chain-driven, adjustable bikes that we ride today are direct descendants of Starley’s Rover, which was, and still is, a near perfect machine.”
James Thomas, www.bicycledesign.net

“I cannot think of any other invention in human history that has had such a major impact on such a broad spectrum of human beings than Mr Starley’s bicycle design. I cannot imagine what our world over the past 125 years would be like without it. I shudder at the thought of how the world may have turned out. A truly visionary, society-changing invention and design is one that can simply not be improved. Thank you, Mr Starley.”
Mikael Colville-Andersen, CEO – Copenhagenize Consulting

“All modern-day bicycle designers owe a huge debt to J K Starley and his vision, and I would like to add my voice to the chorus of thanks to this great inventor. At Colnago, we strive to bring innovation to our work, and Starley’s stroke of genius is an inspiration to us.”
Ernesto Colnago, founder, Colnago Bicycles, Italy

“I don’t suppose that in his wildest dreams JK Starley imagined the impact his creation would have on human life, transport and sport. All of us who work in the bike trade should remember that we stand (or is that ride?) on the shoulders of giants such as he.”
Humphrey Cobbold, CEO, Wiggle

“We at Pearson owe a great deal of thanks to JK Starley. He was responsible for combining ingenuity, fine engineering and mass production of bicycles at a pivotal moment in my family’s history. Tom Pearson, the founder of the Pearson family business in 1860, made the decision at the end of that decade to turn all his blacksmith skills entirely towards cycles and away from the traditional duties of the local smithy, mostly shoeing horses. Originally geared up for Penny Farthing bicycles made by Jk Starley’s uncle, James Starley, the shop later sold Rover Safeties, a decision was, no doubt, made easier by the rising popularity of this new means of transport, a credit to JK Starley for driving the industry forward. Subsequently, more generations followed, I represent the fifth, making our cycle business the oldest in the world. Thank you Mr. Starley, and happy birthday.”
Guy Pearson, Pearson Cycles, London

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JK STARLEY HISTORY

No room for the info below? All the text is at: http://www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com/jkstarley/

John Kemp Starley, creator of the bicycle that “set the fashion to the world”

JK Starley is generally considered the creator of the modern bicycle. According to the editor of The Cyclist, a contemporary magazine, Starley’s Rover Safety bicycle “set the fashion to the world,” leading to a global boom in bicycle ownership.

Commenting in 1931, bicycle collector H. W. Bartleet wrote: “J.K. Starley…lived to see his Rover bicycle copied by the whole cycle trade, and a great industry was thus created.”

Starley’s Rover bikes were so called because their riders were free to rove. The name for bicycle in Poland is rower, based on the word Rover.

Many manufacturers had attempted to create a Safety bicycle – safe in comparison to riding a high-wheeler, that is. Starley’s first design for a Safety was introduced in 1884, while his company – Starley and Sutton Co. of Meteor Works, Coventry – was still making tricycles. The high wheelers of the day – later called ordinaries to distinguish them from Safeties, and also disparagingly known as Penny Farthings – were not just dangerous, they were suitable mainly for tall, athletic men. Writing in 1921, industrial journalist W. F. Grew said: “However enthusiastic one may have been about the ordinary – and I was an enthusiastic ride of it once – there is no denying that it was only possible for comparatively young and athletic men, and if it had remained the only bicycle obtainable, the pastime and the utility of cycling would never have reached its present state of popularity.”

Created by Starley and his friend William Sutton, the first Rover Safety was an indirect steering, rear wheel drive, chain driven bicycle, unlike the direct drive high-wheeler. The first Rover Safety – with a 36 inch front wheel and bridle rods not a raked front fork – was far from perfect and Starley, with the help of Sutton, modified the design, creating the second Rover in 1885, a bicycle with nearly equal sized wheels and, critically, direct steer forks. It was introduced at the Stanley Cycle Show, Britain’s main annual bicycle exhibition, held in a marquee on the Thames Embnakment next to Blackfriars Bridge in London between 28th January to 3rd February, 1885. This bicycle has most of the classic hallmarks of a modern machine.

JK Starley said he wanted to “place the rider at the proper distance from the ground…to place the seat in the right position in relation to the pedals…to place the handles in such a position in relation to the seat that the rider could exert the greatest force upon the pedals with the least amount of fatigue.”

High-wheeler riders looked down on Safeties – literally and figuratively. They called them “dwarf machines”, “beetles” and “crawlers.” However, the 1885 Rover – with solid tyres still – was shown anything but a crawler when a number of them beat the time record in a 100 mile promotional race on the macadamised Great North Road between Norman Cross, near Peterborough, to one mile beyond Twyford, in Berkshire. This race was staged, by Starley and Sutton, on 25th September 1885 and helped convince people that the Safety was here to stay.

By 1888, the design-registered Rover has evolved to the extent it is clearly recognisable as a modern machine: it had two equally sized wheels (26inches, the same as a modern mountain bike) and a triangular diamond-shaped frame. When shod with John Boyd Dunlop’s pneumatic tyres – created in 1887, race proven in 1889 and commercially available in 1890 – the Rover Safety proved itself to be the perfect bicycle and, in essence, the main features on Starley’s 1888 machine are still used on the majority of bicycles sold and ridden today.

Starley & Sutton Co., was based in Coventry, home to the British bicycle industry thanks to his uncle, James Starley. It’s James Starley who is considered the ‘father of the British bicycle industry’ but it’s his nephew who transformed the high-wheeler bicycle into something all could ride, and which would revolutionise transport.

In 1889 the company became J. K. Starley & Co. and in the late 1890s, it became the Rover Cycle Company. After JK Starley’s death this company started to manufacture and sell Rover cars (yes, that’s where Land Rover comes from). In 1888 J.K Starley built Britain’s first electric car.

JK Starley did not invent the Safety bicycle, nor did he name the category nor did he come up with the name Rover (that was his employee George Franks, a retired diamond merchant). Serial entrepreneur Harry Lawson (he was later convicted for fraud) created his Bicyclette Safety bicycle in 1879 and this is arguably the world’s first Safety bicycle. It did not have sloping forks, or equal sized wheels, did not sell in great numbers and was a design cul-de-sac. It was J.K. Starley who adapted a number of existing technologies and terms and, over the space of just a few months, led the creation of the bicycle as we know it.

A lecture J.K. Starley gave to the Society of Arts in London in 1898 shows us his thinking, ten years after the Rover Safety had been largely perfected:

“I felt the time had arrived for solving the problem of the cycle [...]. I therefore turned my attention solely to the perfection and manufacture of the Rover bicycle.

“The main principles which guided me in making this machine were to place the rider at the proper distance from the ground; to connect the cranks with the driving wheel in such a way that the gearing could be varied as desired; to place the seat in the right position in relation to the pedals, and constructed so that the saddle could be either laterally or vertically adjusted at will; to place the handles in such a position in relation to the seat that the rider could exert the greatest force upon the pedals with the least amount of fatigue; and to make them adjustable also.

“I had been considering what a man pedalling a bicycle could be compared to… it largely resembled walking up a ladder, but …whereas the pedals went down in the former; the man went up in the latter. I therefore had to determine where the handles should be placed to enable him to bring the whole of his weight on to the pedals…. It was … the handle-bar which compelled me to adopt the present form of machine, as I could not get it sufficiently forward by the other type. It will be seen by the position of the handle-bar on the Ordinary [high-wheeler] bicycle, that it was utterly useless and imperfect for this purpose.

“…my aim was not only to make a safety bicycle, but to produce a machine which should be the true Evolution of the Cycle, and the fact that so little change has been made in the essential positions, which were established by me in 1885, prove that I was not wrong in the cardinal points to be embodied to this end.”

LINKS

BICYCLE ASSOCIATION
http://www.bicycleassociation.org.uk/

JK STARLEY HISTORY (the text above)
http://www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com/jkstarley/

HARRY LAWSON
http://www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com/motorings-flagship-event-was-organised-by-a-bicycle-builder/

PIX

PRESS & BLOG COVERAGE TO DATE
Thanks to the following for sending their birthday wishes to the late great JK Starley…

http://www.bikeworldnews.com/2012/12/14/happy-birthday-jk-starley/
http://www.bikebiz.com/news/read/birthday-tributes-paid-to-creator-of-the-modern-bicycle/014081
http://www.bikehub.co.uk/news/sustainability/billions-of-birthday-wishes-go-out-to-the-inventor-of-the-bicycle/
http://singletrackworld.com/2012/12/happy-birthday-to-the-creator-of-the-bicycle-as-we-know-it/
http://blog.bikeleague.org/blog/2012/12/happy-birthday-jk-starley-inventor-of-the-modern-bicycle/
http://www.bikerumor.com/2012/12/14/friday-roundup-bicycle-bits-pieces-33/
http://bicycledesign.net/2012/12/jk-starley-birthday-tribut/

http://manifietso.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/happy-birthday-jk-starley-father-of.html
http://www.worldonbike.org/2012/12/14/birthday-tributes-paid-to-creator-of-the-modern-bicycle/#.UMtvrO0d7Zg
http://thetrailmayor.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/happy-birthday-john-kemp-starley/