Except for those completely committed to bike life, most of us are packing away our wheels for the winter, tearing at the freedom and fun put on hold until warmer days return. While I can’t control the weather, I can offer a few visual treats to help you get through, all from the 1890s, the period in which bicycles as know them took off…
There had been bicycle-type vehicles for decades, including variations on the pedal-less contraption German inventor Karl von Drais’ called a “running machine,” but which the public often called a “velocipede,” a “dandy horse” or, in England, a “pedestrian curricle,” and there was also the unforgiving British device nicknamed the “bone-shaker,” but bicycles as we know them didn’t take off until the 1860s, when the French company Michaux added pedals. Though was slow going at first — bikes didn’t arrive in America until 1878 —the vehicles finally became a full-on craze by the 1890s.
With the Industrial Revolution in full swing, when there were so many options of transport — steam trains, steam ships, automobiles and subways — men and women were opting to propel themselves. (So popular were bikes with women that some of the images you see here allude to a revolutionary change not only in women’s fashion, but their place in society at large.)
The bike’s popularity hasn’t waned since, becoming an indelible part of human culture the world over. Now, if we can just muster a bit more interest, we can leave this climate change thing in the dust in no time: a 2015 study showed that increasing global bike riding to 20% in urban areas would help reduce carbon emissions 11% by 2050. But we in the States still have a long way to go: current ridership in U.S. cities is only 1%.
(And f more “Found in the L.O.C., click HERE.)