A Girl and Her Bicycle

A few fossils for those of you who eschew fossil fuels... consider the things far too dangerous myself.

In the summer of  1817 the German Baron Karl von Drais introduced his new invention "the dandy horse" (Draisienne or laufmaschine) to the public in Mannheim. It was the first human powered transportation to use only two wheels in tandem: the rider sat astride a wooden frame supported by two in-line wheels and pushed the vehicle along with their feet while steering the front wheel.

The first mechanically propelled two wheeled vehicle was likely invented by the Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick Macmillanin in 1839 and 3 years later he apparently got the first cycling ticket in when "...an anonymous gentleman from Dumfries-shire, bestride a velocipede of ingenious design, knocked over a little girl in Glasgow and was fined five shillings."

During the 1870s the first metal velocipedes with pedals attached directly to the front wheel were the first to coin the moniker "bicycle", and these enjoyed "a great popularity among young men in the 1880s who could afford them."

The first mass-production of bicycles was begun in Paris in 1868 by the Olivier brothers, bringing the first real bicycle craze into full force; pedestrians however weren't happy about the young gentlemen racing willy-nilly through their fair streets and their complaints -along with the fact that they were extremely uncomfortable- brought an early demise to the craze. But the concept remained popular in England, where front wheel sizes quickly grew to as much as 5 feet (~1.5 meters). The bicycles were considered by the general public to be quite dangerous (and expensive), but bicycle races were staged and well-attended  which spread interest back to the rest of Europe and the USA.

"A major impediment, in the Victorian era, to the adoption of cycling by women was men’s pre-occupation with the idea that women only wanted to ride bicycles because of the stimulation they might receive from the saddle. Horses were ridden side-saddle and, such was male paranoia, it was considered abhorrent for girls to sit astride any object, even a see-saw or hobby-horse. This obsession with the female virginal condition contributed to a boom in erotica in the Victorian age. Cameras and the printing process were becoming cheaper and easier to use. Bicycles captured the public imagination like nothing before, and erotic imagery, as with every other media form of the time, reflected this new-found interest."- oldbike.eu


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