Saturday, February 13, 2016

Presidential Candidates Seeking Cyclist Vote - 1895

Illustration from Puck [magazine], v. 37, no. 953, (1895 June 12), centerfold.

Title: Presidential aspirants take to the wheel! / C.J. Taylor.
Summary: Print shows the interior of the "Bicycle - Academy" which offers "Special Facilities for Presidential Candidates", and trying out bicycles are several candidates labeled "Harrison, Sherman, Allison, Morton, Tom Reed, McKinley, Stewart, [Hill], Flower, Cullom, [and] Peffer". Morton rides a motorized bicycle, Allison rides a tricycle, Flower has put his head through the front spokes, Stewart hangs onto a column, McKinley appears to be hanging onto Reed, and Hill's tires are leaking air. On the wall is a poster for an "1896 Scorcher".
Contributor Names: Taylor, Charles Jay, 1855-1929, artist
Created / Published: N.Y. : Published by Keppler & Schwarzmann, 1895 June 12.

Presidential aspirants take to the wheel! The bicycle vote has got to be catered to, and the best wheelman will make the best run.

At this point, the bicycle craze of the 1890s was building up - many cyclists went to indoor training programs to learn how to ride. Here, the presidential candidates are depicted learning how to ride in order to get the "wheelman" (cyclist) vote. Surprising number of candidates, although compared to what we have been through now . . .

Of course, at this point there were zero automobiles.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

This Bicycle Shift System Didn't Catch On

The National Archives (of the U.S. of A.) has published a "coloring book" as a PDF, making use of digitized oddball patent drawings from their collections. One of them is a fairly strange looking bicycle related patent application from 1899, from a Mr. John J. Hentz of Baltimore.

Hentz Patent bicycle shift system 1899
Full patent is online in Google's patent database

From the patent application text:
The object of my invention is to furnish a device by which to connect or disconnect the sprocket-wheels with the shaft on which they are placed, so that the motion of the shaft may be communicated to the one or the other of the sprocket-wheels, as desired, for the purpose of increasing or decreasing the speed of the bicycle while propelling it on a level or up an incline.
and later, "The operation of the device is obvious."

While operation of this gear shift device may be obvious, it was also not a very good design, with two entirely separate chains. Like most bicycle improvement patents of the 1890s, it didn't catch on.

Looping the Loop - Another Approach

Patent Drawing for K. Lange's Double Bicycle for Looping the Loop
Patent Drawing for K. Lange's Double Bicycle for Looping the Loop

From 1905, a patent application drawing from the National Archives.

Completely unworkable, one assumes. And oddly, at the same time, a "daredevil" named "Diavolo" was doing loops without any need for a special bike like this.

1905 - Daredevel does loop-the-loop on bicycle
Diavolo photographed in 1905

I blogged about this before; there are photos of this being done in 1903. So why the special bike idea? It doesn't seem like having wheels over your head would help of the bike fell across the loop.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hyundai's Super Bowl Ad With Bicycle - Don't Get It

The bicycle is only at the beginning of the ad

Whatever it is that this is trying to say, I don't get. Apparently I am not the target audience, although I do have a Hyundai Elantra. Our Elantra isn't smart enough not to run over pedestrians. It isn't clear to me whether this one will or won't run over cyclists. I guess I would be interested in other people buying cars that won't run over cyclists.

What is the point of the bicycle in this?


Generally the few ads I have seen alluding to automated correction for distracted driving have been less obvious about suggesting that the car can compensate for this sort of oblivious behavior. I can't decide if this approach is good, recognizing that everyone is an idiot from time to time behind the wheel, or bad (for some other reason that I can't think of). Hmmm.

Maxfield Parrish Bicycle Images of 1896

1896 Harpers Weekly "bicycle number" [issue] cover and ad

Title: Harper's Weekly, bicycle number
Creator(s): Parrish, Maxfield, 1870-1966, artist
Date Created/Published: Hartford : Pope Manufacturing Co., [1896].
Medium: 1 print : color ; sheet 41 x 58 cm (poster format)
* Title from item.
* Back cover: Columbia bicycles insure cycling delight. Standard of the world.
* Images published in Harper's Weekly on April 11, 1896.
* Forms part of the Artist poster filing series (Library of Congress)

The image of the young woman on a bicycle was the cover for a special bicycle issue for Harpers Weekly for April 11, 1896. 1896 was the height of the "bicycle craze" of the 1890s. Unfortunately I can't find a full text issue of that issue online that isn't part of a commercial product. Hmmm.

The image of the young man on a bicycle to the left was an ad that was part of the special issue, for Columbia Bicycles.

I was able to determine the date of publication for the particular issue and asked that the information be added to this record in the LC system, which it was.

The bike shown on the cover of the issue is from the same angle and looks about the same as the one in the ad, but lacks the distinctive headbadge of a Columbia bicycle. Well, it is on the cover, not part of an ad. While what little is visible of the bikes is accurate looking, one wonders if Mr. Parrish ever rode a bike - it seems surprising to show riders with their thumbs not wrapped around the handlebars. But then if you weren't going to be pulling on handbrakes, maybe it would seem more natural to ride this way.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Jefferson Memorial on Ride Home

Jefferson Memorial floating in ground level fog

One of the pleasant parts of riding rather than driving is that it is easy enough to stop and enjoy the view.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Starting Up Bicycle Commute After 2 Feet of Snow

Snow, Washington D.C., car
Snow in Washington DC, January 1922 (from the Library of Congress)

Last weekend two feet of snow (give or take) fell from the sky, closing the government completely for several days, then various kinds of delayed arrival and the like through Friday. I teleworked through Thursday, returning to work on Friday - using Metro.

I am not crazy about using Metro, but I didn't feel like experimenting with the snow on the trails that day.

Yesterday, Saturday, I went about a third of the way to work, to see what conditions are like on the bike trails between my house and the Potomac river where I cross the 14th street bridge into DC.

Plowed trail Arlington County VA
Bicycle trail plowed by Arlington County

The trail for about a half mile from my house to the Four Mile Run Trail was not plowed, but it was mostly clear anyway. The Four Mile Run trail near Shirlington was plowed, continuing on in all the way to the Potomac near the south end of National Airport. Arlington County uses a Gator or something similar; it is difficult for them to stay on the trail consistently, as you can see by the tread marks in the grass where the small plow was off the trail for a while.

Mt Vernon Trail near south end National Airport
Mt Vernon trail near south end of National Airport

Once the trail leaves Arlington County and runs into the Mt Vernon trail, the plowing stops, and the conditions are much more mixed - that is, there is more snow and ice. I can route myself through Crystal City to avoid some of this; I'll see how it goes tomorrow.