"Has bicycling ever been this popular? Yes. In the early 1970s. This was when much of the world, but especially America, experienced a “bike boom”—sales were so strong that bike shops regularly ran out of stock and would-be customers had to put their names on long waiting lists.
Built on baby-boomer wealth, burgeoning environmental concerns, and the same health kick that saw the rise of jogging, this bike boom lasted for the best part of four years. (It was many times larger than the mountain-bike boom of the 1980s.)"
In the 1970's, it was common for lots of normal (i.e., non-athletic) people (like me) to use bikes for touring and transportation. The attitude of the public in general seemed supportive. Practically everyone I met while touring was really friendly. But in the '80's the emphasis shifted to sport and fashion. Bikes got pushed off the streets and onto trails. Bikes ceased to be transportation vehicles, and became sporting goods. There was also an explosion of specialist clothing and gear being sold. It seemed to me then that is was just part of the general conservative backlash of the era (which, compared to Trumpism, now looks pretty mild). But tbh I can't say I really understand what happened, even now.
Boom times are fun, although as I just mentioned in another thread, we really have a supply side problem at the moment.
Would you like to provide some in-depth empirical analysis to support your thesis?
Sure thing. And while this is NPR (I'd heard it live last Saturday or Sunday) and we can debate how in depth or accurate NPR really is, however by their reckoning "About 90% of bikes and their parts are made overseas." From the transcript here in the form of an article: "Intensifying U.S.-China Tensions Could Hurt American Bike Supply" They continue:
"The supply chain is already compromised because products coming out of China have faced a 10- to 12-week delay. So that puts pressure on bike suppliers who import into the U.S."
Again, I'm not vouching for NPR, however I've observed these same figures and the tenuous multi-faceted trade situations separately. Here's some more info from the article, which also includes some demand-side insights: