For Our Consideration: The bicycentennial: Our 200-year obsession with two-wheeled transit
“The bicyclists are doing much to destroy the Sabbath, and at the same time are injuring their own bodies and souls.”
—The Indiana Weekly Messenger, October 16, 1895
“Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia…”
—H.G. Wells, A Modern Utopia
The earliest species of the family velocipede, the clumsy proto-bicycles, were called dandy horses, boneshakers, and worse. They were painful to ride, hard to steer, and considering the nature of life in the 19th century, their existence made little sense. So why is it that successive generations were so drawn to this goofy concept of a rider balanced on two wheels that they eventually refined it into the elegant, pedal-cranked, chain-driven thing that we know as a bike? Did we domesticate the bicycle, or did it simply domesticate itself?
As far as is known, it was the Baron Von Drais, a minor noble and civil servant of the Grand Duchy …