The People’s Republic of China is officially proclaimed, following the victory of the Communist Party forces in the civil war.
Winston Churchill makes a landmark speech in support of the idea of a European Union.
George Orwell’s ‘1984’ is published.
Albert II, a rhesus monkey, becomes the first primate to enter space, on a US V-2 rocket, but is killed on impact on his return journey.
Policemen in Liverpool protest about the reduction of the cycle allowance they get for riding their own bicycles on the beat from 5 shillings a week to 2 shillings a week.
Swiss cyclist Armin Von Büren wins the Swiss national track championships as his wheel collapses as he crosses the finishing line in a high speed sprint. The miraculous photograph above freezes forever the split second when Von Büren’s front wheel has collapsed and shed its tyre but he has yet to hit the deck.
1949 is also the last year in which the British people travelled more miles by bicycle than they travelled by motor car. In that year, on average, people in Britain travelled 305 miles a year by bicycle and 261 miles per year by car. The statistics are from the Department of Transport.
1949 was the beginning of the period of the Great Extinction of cycling in the British Isles. The motor car and the fuel required to move it became steadily more available and affordable. Politicians and planners decided that personal mobility was unequivocally a good thing and that British roads were for cars, not bicycles.
The same figures, but with miles cycled plotted on a separate axis, to aid comprehension:
In 2010, the average distance British people travel by bicycle annually is 50 miles and the average distance they travel by motor car is 3,966 miles.
If, as some suggest, Britain is experiencing a bicycle boom, there is a long way yet to go.