Sunday, May 9, 2010


Today I rode my bike for one of the first times since it has gotten warm out, so I decided to do a little history of the bicycle. In 1817 the draisienne was created and from this the bicycles of the later 18th century branched off. The draisienne was a small vehicle similar to a scooter. The first bicycle to be produced was simply a more modified version of the draisienne and it was designed by Baron Karl Von Drais of Germany. This bicycle would not by any means meet the standard of a bicycle today because it had no wheels. The bike was steered using a bar that was connected to the front wheel. Then in 1839, Kirkpatrick Macmillan, added pedals to the bicycle and created the first bicycle of this type. Not long after this, in 1866, Pierre Lallement, a French mechanic, created what is called the pedal-powered bicycle. Lallement took out a U.S. patent on his new invention. Following the pedal-powered bicycle was the High-Wheeler in 1870. The High Wheeler was also called Ordinary or Penny- Farthing. The bike got the name High- Wheeler from its extremely large front wheel which on an average High- Wheeler bike would be five feet. The High-Wheeler had a small rear wheel. In 1885, the Safety Bicycle was created by J.K. Starley. Starley was an English bicycle manufacturer when he created it. This was the first bicycle that was considered safe to ride. The wheels on the bicycle were of even size unlike on the High-Wheeler, which is what made this bicycle so much safer and much easier to ride. This bike had several modifications and changes which include using a chain and sprocket system, and by 1890 air filled tires, the coaster brake and an adjustable handlebar. In the late 1800s the bicycle became a big hit and was very popular. As many as 4 million American’s rode bicycles at this time according to the World Book Millennium Encyclopedia. This did not last long though, by the 1900’s automobiles had become popular and bicycles were no longer as useful and essential as they had once been.

I think the bicycle was a very significant invention of the 1880’s because of how it affected the world. The bicycles helped immensely in the 1800’s when travel by automobile was not available. This allowed people to travel much longer distances and they were able to do it much faster than if they were on foot. With the invention of the bicycle cultures were able to interact more with cultures that once would not have been within walking distance. Although the bicycle in the United States is ridden more for entertainment and exercise so countries in the world use bicycles much more often than the United States. In China, bikes are used by a large population of people to travel to and from work every day and to go other places.

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