Showing posts with label articles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label articles. Show all posts

Saturday, September 9, 2017

My 2,000 Character Response to WaPo Article on Bicycle Commuting

The Washington Post has an article, "Cycling to work means better health and a longer life. Here’s how to get started." that I made a comment on (that will be lost in the sea of comments, which is probably just fine). I have reproduced it here. You only get 2,000 characters for a comment!

Bike to Work Day, 2011
Line of bicycle commuters on Mt Vernon trail several years ago on "bike to work" day

"Cycling to work means better health and a longer life. Here’s how to get started." The first part of this title is surprising since typical headlines for stories like this include the word "may" - as in, it MAY mean better health and a longer life - or it may not. I guess that the author (and editor) felt OK with leaving that out is encouraging.

I'm not sure that the approach provided that much useful "here's how to start" guidance but as a selection of somewhat inspiring stories with some selected suggestions it is fine.

About the e-bike commuter, it says, "And she gets to work without sweating, traveling nearly as fast as a car." Since we are talking about pedal assist bike, and since this is Washington DC, this seems unlikely on hot days. Simply standing around outside is enough to start sweating in much of July-August, and although the self-generated breeze from riding does carry away some perspiration, you can't get away from some sweating. And the "traveling nearly as fast as car" suggests a high rate of speed but it is really more the slow-and-steady-wins-the-raise over automobiles that kill a lot of time in traffic jams. Those e-bike commuters I see who want a high rate of speed, which is certainly possible with some of them (over 25 mph on some pedal assist bikes) often create hazards for themselves and others, particularly when on multiuse trails that were intended for around 15 mph max.

The article doesn't include the suggestion that seems most useful to me - anyone thinking about this is likely to have seen a neighbor who is a bike commuter - the thing to do is to ask that person their advice. A lot of getting started is overcoming certain seeming obstacles specific to a location that a neighbor can likely help with. And this ties in with a pleasing aspect of bicycle commuting, which is that most of us eagerly help each other. It's a community you get as part of being a bike commuter.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

1902 Bicycle Demonstration Centrifugal Force

How a Thrilling Circus Feat Teaches a Scientific Law

From the Anadarko [Oklahoma] Daily Democrat, May 29, 1902.

This article, reprinted from the Chicago American, describes the effect of centrifugal force, (which I thought was centrifical force but that's apparently not the better term) on a cyclist in a high speed loop. I should admit, I'm not sure if the 1902 physics is correct or not. The same article appeared in the North Platte [Nebraska] Tribune, May 16, 1902 and the [Louisiana] Jennings Daily Record, May 26, 1902 - it was fairly common for human or general interest articles to be reprinted in this way across the country.
The bicycle "loop" presents a most interesting demonstration of a great scientific principle, which plays its part in preventing the earth from dropping into the sun, and the moon from being precipitated upon the earth, no less than in keeping the rider and his wheel from falling to the ground when he hangs, head downward, In midair, at the top of the loop.

A different article about a particular example of such a loop-de-loop was published that same year around the same time in the Cook County Herald, May 17, 1902 (Grand Marais, Minnesota). The second article is more interesting for a cyclist since it describes the particulars of his bicycle.

A group of circus men, newspapermen and photographers last week saw a dare-devil bicycle rider loop the loop at Coney island. With no other aid than the velocity accumulated by a rush down a steep incline the man rode up the concave surface until he hung head downward and continued on down out of the loop to dismount, cool and collected, 100 feet away. The bicyclist was Robert B. Vandervoort, an electrician, who has gone over the loop-the-loop railroad known to almost every visitor to Coney Is­land until he has come to look upon centrifugal force as a real, tangible thing.

Vandervoort's wheel is one especi­ally constructed for the daring ride. It weighs about sixty-five pounds, has pneumatic tires on broad rims of steel, no pedals, no chain or gearing and no brake. There is no way for the rider to stop himself once mounted and in motion, except to fall off, and there is no mechanism to allow of the rider's attaining motion. It has two footholds for the rider's feet, where the crank shaft os a bicycle usually is.

The same idea, but running rather than riding a bike ~

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Looking Forward from 1894 - Cycling Options

I found a curious and amusing article in the Phillipsburg Herald (Phillipsburg, Kansas) from April 5, 1894. In the 1894 the "bicycling craze" of the 1890s was well underway but the "safety bicycle" (that is, a bicycle with the basic design we still have today) was still being improved each year and the peak of the craze would not be until 1896-1897. As with any "craze" there was speculation as to what might come next - this long article from the middle of the United States covered the possibilities (most of which were quite improbable) extensively, with illustrations.

Ngram results - wheelmen
nGram shows discussion of "wheelmen" in newspapers peaked 1896-1896 -- 1894 was still early

As you can see below, the article on bicycles and cycling took up the entire left side of the full page.

Entire Page
Image of the full newspaper page

The article begins:
The friends of cycling are legion and their number is augmented every day. As a sport it remains as popular as ever, and during the enforced dullness of tho winter months the cyclist dreams but of the perspective enjoyment another season. Long before the advent of the first robin and the timid crocus, the wheelman has burst in full bloom and can be seen gayly "pumping" through mud and slush having a glorious time in making himself and others believe that gentle spring has come.
Then it continues with illustrations and descriptions of a variety of possible bicycle types, including some more imagined than real.

Bicycle Ideal for a Family
A fanciful illustration suggests the skepticism of many about cycling at the time

Hand & Feet Driven Bike
A bicycle driven by one's arms as well as legs

Sail Bicycle
A bicycle equipped with a sail

Ice Bike
A bicycle equipped for ice (only)

Milking Maid Bicycle (?!)
An apparently regular bicycle used to help create a "new" milking maid

Cargo carrying with bicycles can require considerable skill - Egypt, 2008 example

Yes, this fellow is riding along with an open tray of Egyptian flatbread on his head.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

More on the Bicycle of the Future (a View from 1901)

An article in "Modern Culture" from 1901 looks at "The Future of the Bicycle" from a few years later than my previous post that was a view from 1897 - between 1897 and 1901, the market for bicycles collapsed and prices fell and at the same time the automobile was being introduced, along with motor bicycles (motorcycles).

I have only reproduced here the text of some representative paragraphs from the beginning, middle and end of the article but it is not very long and may be interesting to read the entire thing.

The introduction is written in a rather overdone style I often see in articles written around this time.
THERE still are those, as there were ten years ago, who persist in their contention that the days of the bicycle are far spent, just as there are those who commune with nature on a spring day with their fingers in their ears and admit the earth is beautiful while they lament that the birds have ceased to sing in the tree tops. And because it takes all manner of people to make a world, there doubtless are those also who confess that wheeling exhales a most seductive influence, but who will resist it for the same reason as of yore; they will wait until bicycles are cheaper. Not while green Nature allures when winter wanes, and mankind enjoys his liberty, will bicycling or some kindred recreation lose its fascination. The industry has felt an impulse to renewed activity, and while it is in a measure true that this spirit of optimism is perennial, the conclusion is so logical that it must be shared by everyone.
The article then reviews the history of the bicycle's development and makes the following conclusions:
All sorts of impossible inventions continue to emanate from the patent office, but the prospect of another radical step forward on present approved lines is obscure. Advancement is not an abstract condition which exists as a natural course,and the improvement of the bicycle cannot be said to cover a century, but was rather confined to two decades.

There have necessarily been greater variations in the different designs for the last ten years than reason demanded, but the amount of experimentation to which it is attributable has not been without a favorable effect on the present high standard of excellence. Every important feature has been carried to opposite extremes in order to attain the happy medium, and possibly with an ulterior motive of keeping the public curiosity whetted by constantly changing fashions. But now there is no longer need to perpetuate that expensive custom of adopting a radically different design every year, and marking wheels a scant year old down to bargain counter prices. Evolution has been toward uniformity. . .
Here the writer has in mind bicycles for general use and not a bicycle used by a professional racer, which would have been a much more narrow market at that time. Since then, of course, it has turned out that there can be a great variety of bicycle types overall, but here question was whether there would be some additional leap to improve bicycle technology comparable to the introduction of the pneumatic tire.

The article then has the following flowery conclusion:
While prices are not actually increased this year, it augurs well for the quality of the bicycle that there is a tendency to buoyancy in this direction. With the public clamoring for prices lower than the cost of a good bicycle, there was a flood of inferior wheels, cheap in all save price, assembled from a fortuitous medley of unrelated parts and pieces. The sale of assorted parts has decreased, which means that with wheels of established reputation within the reach of all, the profit in home made work is lost.

So give the bicycle its due. It will live though a few immunes deny it the right. It will bear the same relation to the motor bicycle that the horse does to the automobile. Society will resurrect it as a fad; indeed it may even now be bent upon it since King Edward of England is an enthusiast. And society will eventually drop it again without affecting its stability. For as a leveler of distances between the city pavements and the green of country earth it is a boon to the nature-lover, while its utility appeals to man's commercial instincts.
"A bicycle is to a motor bicycle as a horse is to the automobile" is not how things have worked out, but the basic logic that the bicycle's "utility appeals to man's commercial instincts" seems to be true for some today at least, if we take "commercial" to mean "it's economical."

Columbia Catalog 1900
A good quality bicycle from 1901 at the reduced (from 1897) price of only $50

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The "Bicycle of the Future" (of 1897)

A short piece looks at the "bicycle of the future" published in the Washington DC Evening Star, August 14, 1897. I have reproduced here just parts of the article, which speculates on what will be the "radical" changes in the design of the then-named safety bicycle (essentially the same basic bike design used today). After a ten year period of introducing and perfecting this design, including the introduction of pneumatic tires, it was apparently assumed that there would continue to be innovations of similar significance.
By many it is predicted that the bicycle of the future will be a radical departure from the wheel of today. As near perfect as the wheel of today may be, it is not so perfect that improvements cannot be made in it. This has been the invariable rule of mechanics, and the bicycle can hardly prove an exception. Stimulated by the demand of the public for something better, the manufacturers will endeavor to put an article on the market to meet the popular taste. As it seems at present, there is no need for any improvement, yet there are many who are demanding something unique and novel in the line of bicycle construction, and the manufacturers find it a lucrative investment to gratify the whims of this class.
Arguably the most significant statement is at the end - the market for bicycles at the then prevailing prices was apparently satisfied, so the manufacturers were hoping that some new enhancement would allow them to sell new and (literally) improved bicycles even to persons who already had one but would feel a need to have a new one that was clearly better.
The diamond frame has been recognized as the strongest combination that could be made for bicycle construction. It has stood the test well, but now the demand is for something different. Accordingly, the triangle or pyramid, frame wheel has made its appearance. It may be several years ahead of its day, as popular fancy has not taken to that style of construction as yet. This is only one of the most prominent departures from the present style of bicycle frames. There are innumerable designs on the market, but they are either lacking in some qualities, or else do not equal the present style in weight, and are therefore objectionable to riders. No cyclist is going back to a thirty-pound wheel after having pushed a twenty-pound or twenty-two pound wheel for several years. It would be a foolish move, indeed.

Triangle Frame Bicycle Design
"Triangle" frame design - failed to attract interest
Within the past three or four years there have been no improvements in the general design of the bicycle. The improvements that have been made are mostly in the line of detail, though In this direction some wonderful strides have been made. The number of changes in this direction are too many to mention here. The weight of the wheel has been reduced to a point undreamed of four or five years ago, until The Friction Ch. today the factor of safety Is the smallest known in mechanical construction. The tires have been wonderfully improved upon, and the matter of repair brought into the hands of all riders.

The tread has been brought down to a scientific basis. The bearings have been made as near perfect as is possible, though it is admitted by all bicycle experts there is plenty of room for improvement yet. The bearings have also been made as near dust proof as possible, while arrangements for the chain adjustment have been patented by a number of people. The cranks and sprockets have been brought down to a scientific basis also, and innumerable other smaller details have been looked after. all tending to produce the bicycle of today. If one make of wheel had all the improvements on it we would have a model bicycle, but as it is the improvements are scattered over a number of different makes and as a result no particular wheel is perfect.
Cog Chainless Bicycle Drive
Cog-based drive system to replace chain - never caught on

The article goes on to suggest that a likely place for innovation would be to replace the chain with some other kind of "chainless" drive system, although the article dismisses shaft-drive approaches (which were marketed by a number of companies and still exist today) in favor of exotic approaches like the cog-based approach shown above, even as it admits that this system has some drawbacks.

Somewhat oddly, on this same page in the next column over from where this article appears, in a collection of short items called "Cycling Chat", a Professor Carpenter from Cornell University is quoted saying, "no better power conveyor can be found than the chain that is today in use on the bicycle" - he discounts the greater efficiency from chainless systems.

(The next post takes a further look at the "bicycle of the future" as described in 1901.)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

When Capitol Hill Staffers Were "Bicycle Crazy"

1896 was the height of the 1890s "bicycle craze" - when cycling was highly fashionable and popular. So much so that this short article appeared in the [Washington DC] Morning Times on May 24, 1896.
EVERYBODY around the Capitol has gone bicycle crazy. As a consequence more people are limping around the corridors than one would suppose. They are all learners. So it is no strange thing to hear every person laughing when some one comes limping along. Most of them have been there before and have gone through the same experience. The case of the clerk of a prominent Presidential candidate illustrates the heartlessness of the initiated, of those who can dodge a cable car, coal carts and street sweepers all at once. He was limping along the corridor when he was greeted by a friend with:
"Halloo, Billy; sick?"
"No; bicycle."
That was all except the laughter.
Since most cyclists were riding fixed gear bicycles at this time, either with no brakes at all or primitive spoon brakes, it was not just that many cyclists were learners but also that cycling was generally more risky since stopping (in particular) was more problematic.

This photograph illustrates the suggested approach for coasting with an 1890s fixed gear bike, with the rider putting her feet on pegs on the fork while the pedals spin below - she does have a brake on this bicycle, at least

A photograph of fashionable young then-Washingtonians, some with their "wheels," near the U.S. Capitol

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Some 1913 Bicycle Accidents in DC

October 1913 had two bicycle accidents that received newspaper coverage, one that involved President Wilson and "the White House car" (as it was referred to) and another involving the then-highest ranking bicycle commuter in the U.S. federal government.

The Washington Herald of October 06, 1913 had this story about the follow-up after President Wilson's car (driven by a chauffeur) had an accident with a bicycle messenger.
WILSON VISITS BOY AUTO HURT - Calls at Hospital and Feels Robert Crawford's Pulse and Head.

LAD SHOWS PLEASURE - Particularly Happy Over President's Promise to Give Him Bicycle to Replace Broken One

"Laying on of hands" may fail to cure nine times out of ten in these days, but in the opinion of Robert Crawford, the messenger boy run down and injured by President Wilson's automobile Saturday, the soothing touch of the chief Executive's hands and his cheering talk worked miraculously yesterday when the President visited the little patient at Providence Hospital.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Young Crawford was assured that the President would see that he had another bicycle in place of the one that was demolished by the White House car. After giving the patient this assurance and telling him that he hoped he would be completely well soon, President Wilson left the sickroom and returned to the White House in his automobile.

A typical messenger boy with bicycle in Washington DC, 1912

This incident was of sufficient notoriety that it is mentioned in the Wikipedia article about "telegraph boys" - "The President sent his personal physician to attend Crawford. Later, he visited the boy in the hospital and presented him with a new bicycle. "I did not know it was the President's car that I ran into," the boy said. Wilson replied, "I rather thought it was the President's car that ran into you.""

Not long after that, the second highest official at the Department of State had a bicycle accident that was reported on in the newspaper by The Washington Times on October 14, 1913.

Secretary's Machine Wrecked and He Narrowly Escapes Receiving Serious Injury.

Assistant Secretary of State A. A. Adee had a narrow escape from serious injury this morning, when he rode his world-famous bicycle, which was carrying him to his office in the State Department, into the automobile being driven by J. E. Baines. of Browning Baines, coffee manufacturers, as Pennsylvania avenue northwest. Mr. Adee'a bicycle was damaged to such an extent that he was unable to ride it. He escaped serious Injury, however, although miraculously. Following the collision, Mr. Baines jumped from the car, assisted Mr. Adee to his feet, brushed the dust from his clothes, and after making an inventory, found that the aged cyclist was practically uninjured. The accident happened at Sixteenth and Corcoran streets. Secretary Adee was going west on Corcoran, and was turning into Sixteenth when he came immediately in front of Mr. Baine's automobile, which was going south. Mr. Baines turned his machine about, but not in time to keep Mr. Adee, who had not till that time seen it, from colliding.

Alvey Adee in 1914, riding his bike to work, some time after the above-described crash

Monday, December 9, 2013

NYC Bicycle Accident Report - From 1897

This long list of accidents involving bicycles in New York City for the month of July, 1897 is from the New York Sun newspaper. I reproduce the text (cleaned up from what is in the source) from the full article. No illustrations were provided. Normally I do not fill a blog with the entire text taken from an article like this, but at least for me reading all of this gives an interesting picture of that time, particularly when compared to how such things transpire these days.

Some background may help - the actors are generally pedestrians, bicycle riders, drivers of horse-drawn vehicles, and a few runaway horses. In particular the word "rider" is always used to refer to cyclists, particularly in the phrase, "rider arrested." And the word "driver" is always referring to someone operating a horse drawn vehicle since at this time there were no automobiles, again as in the phrase, "driver arrested."

Despite the title of the article, that to me suggested wheelmen and wheelwomen were at fault in all the incidents described, the blame is sometimes ascribed to the drivers of vehicles or to events beyond anyone's control, for example with runaway horses or a bicycle that has a fork break and falls to the street. Where fault was found by the police on the spot, it is noteworthy that the party at fault, whether a rider or driver, is immediately arrested, sometimes after being chased. Some of the cyclists are not arrested because they escape. And in this list, riders are considered to have been at fault far more than drivers.

Some cyclists are described as "scorchers" - I described scorchers in an earlier blog post - this term was used to describe reckless speedster cyclists during the 1890s.

Some of the language in the piece reflects a different approach to journalism - some individuals are labeled as "fat" or "stupid," for example. The article appears to be intended to have a certain entertainment value in its approach to the subject (or something like entertainment).

JULY'S BICYCLE RECORD - Misadventures of Wheelmen and Wheelwomen and Accidents Caused by Them

The list of bicycle accidents that occurred in this city during July is long, despite the fact that for more than two weeks most of the wheelers were kept indoors by almost incessant rain. A surprising thing about the month's casualties is that while the cycling season is well advanced the number of careless and unskilful riders doesn't seem to diminish. Fewer of the accidents in July can be counted a unavoidable than in June, although in some cases it is difficult to determine by the brief report obtainable whether or not the mishap could, under the circumstances, have been prevented. The habitual scorcher certainly took a rest last month, and was probably not responsible for more than one-tenth of the damage done. Following is a summary of the accidents reported:

A peddler's wagon runs into a wheelwoman, who is thrown from her saddle. 8he falls into the arms of a bike cop and escapes injury. The bicycle is smashed and the driver locked up after a lively chase.

A scorcher knocks down an elderly man, whose collar bone is broken by the fall. The victim is taken to a hospital and declines to make a complaint against the wheelman.

A cab driver runs down a wheelwoman and one of the wheels of the cab passes over her head, breaking her nose and fracturing her skull in several places. She is taken home and the cabman is arrested.

An elderly woman is knocked over by a wheelman and so severely cut and bruised that she is taken to a hospital. Cyclist arrested.

A seven-year-old boy, while playing in the street, is run over by a cyclist, receives a scalp wound, and is sent to a hospital.
NY Sun 1897 Newspaper page
The entire middle column is made up of this list of bicycle accidents for July 1897 in NYC
The forks of a bicycle break on Eighth avenue and the rider is thrown heavily against the curb. He is taken to a hospital.

A boy cyclist knocks down three-year-old girl who is playing in the street, the child is severely injured about the head and shoulders and is taken to a hospital. Boy arrested.

A woman is struck by a wheelman, receives a broken wrist and scalp wounds, and is taken to a hospital. Rider arrested.

One wheelman collides with another, is thrown, and receives a bad scalp wound. He is taken to a hospital.

A young woman is run down by a wheelman and has her left thigh and arm broken. Rider arrested.

A wheelman's pedal strikes a curbstone and he is thrown heavily to the pavement, but escapes with a few scratches.

A tandem collides with a buggy at the Central Park Circle and is smashed. The cyclists, a man and a women, are thrown off, but escape injury. The accident said to be due to the torn up condition of the Circle.

A reckless young wheelman runs into a six-year-old boy, whose right leg is injured and left ear badly torn. Rider arrested.

A seven-year-old girl playing in front of her home is run over by a wheelman, but not seriously hurt. Rider arrested.

A six-year-old girl is struck by wheelman; her leg is broken and she is taken to a hospital. Rider arrested.

A young wheelwoman runs into an ambulance, which comes upon her suddenly. The wheel is smashed, but its rider isn't hurt and the driver isn't blamed.

A truckman corners a wheelman and runs over his bike, smashing it. The cyclist barely avoids being run over himself, and, it is said, is told by the truck's owner that 'tis a pity his neck isn't broken as well as his wheel.

A wheelman in trying to pass in front of a wagon, hits its shaft and strikes his eye against a harness buckle, injuring the eye badly.

A woman is knocked down and run over by a wheelman, has her cheek badly cut and is taken to a hospital. Rider arrested.

A wheelman is crowded off his machine by a team of horses drawing a heavy wagon. A wheel passes over his ankle, and the driver, in backing the team, rolls the wheel over the cyclist's ankle a second time. The injured man is taken to a hospital and the driver is arrested.

A man is knocked down and run over by a wheelman. The pedestrian receives contusions on both knees and on the left arm and is taken away in an ambulance. Rider arrested.

A driver runs over ten-year-old boy cyclist, who is badly cut and bruised about the head. Driver arrested.

A monkey-backed scorcher, riding on a cable slot with his head down, bucks into a truck and is thrown violently into the street. He is picked up in a semi-conscious state, with his head badly cut, and is treated by an ambulance surgeon.

A wheelwoman's bike slips on a wet pavement and she is thrown off. Her elbow is cut and she is bruised in several places. An ambulance is called and the surgeon dresses the woman's wounds and sends her home.

Another wheel slips on a wet pavement, and the rider, a woman, is landed in the street with great force. Her left ankle is fractured and she is taken to a hospital, where she is likely to remain for several weeks.

An engaged couple on a tandem are run into by a lad driving a grocery wagon and are thrown, one of the wagon wheels passing over the young woman's body. She is severely bruised and receives a bad scalp wound, while the man escapes with slight injuries. Driver is blamed, and is locked up after a chase.

A coal cart and a wheelwoman collide on the Boulevard and the cyclist is knocked out, but not seriously hurt. Bystanders blame the driver.

A young couple, man and woman, are riding a tandem in Central Park, when the handle bar parts and the man is pitched forward onto the fork and receives a slight wound on his right side. He is taken to a hospital. The woman is not much hurt.

A four-year-old girl is knocked down by a scorcher, and has her right leg broken. The scorcher doesn't stop to investigate.

A young woman, after spurting to get past a wagon, strikes against a curb before she is able to stop. She is thrown heavily to the sidewalk, her head striking against a hydrant. She goes home in a cab.

A wheelman, in anticipation of a happy event expected hourly to take place at home, scorches down Second avenue, runs over a six-year old boy, and is locked up. The boy is taken to a hospital practically unhurt. The cyclist is released, but was too late.

An elderly woman is knocked down and run over by a wheelman on Eighth avenue; her thigh is fractured, and she is taken to a hospital in a serious condition Rider arrested.

A wheelwoman walking beside her bicycle is knocked down by a runaway horse. She is unconscious, but suffers only slight injury.

A wheelman riding up Fifth avenue, with his back curved like a dromedary's and his nose almost touching the handle bar, fails to turn the corner, dashes into the sidewalk and strikes a girl, knocking her down. She is rendered unconscious, but isn't much hurt. The rider is thrown by the collision, but immediately remounts and scorches away.

A wheelwoman falls from her machine on Fifth avenue, receives a contusion of the right elbow and it taken home.

A wheelwoman loses control of her machine on Eighth avenue and falls, fracturing her left ankle. She is removed to a hospital.

A young wheelman collides with a truck on Third avenue, is thrown, and lacerates his hand badly. He refuses to make a complaint.

Two wheelmen riding rapidly on the Boulevard collide, and are thrown to the ground. Neither is much hurt, and they ride away after a brief but heated argument.

In cleaning his bike a wheelman's forefinger gets caught in the sprocket wheel and is cut off. The wound is dressed by an ambulance surgeon.

A wheelman is overcome by the heat and falls from his machine, striking on hit head. He is picked up unconscious and removed to a hospital suffering from concussion of the brain.

A cab driver runs into and knocks down a boy cyclist, badly cutting the lad's left knee and arm. The cabman lashes his horse and escapes.

A bicyclist is taken ill and falls, fracturing his skull. He is taken to a hospital and his injuries are probably fatal.

A cab strikes a boy cyclist, who is knocked under the horse's feet and barely escapes being run over. He is badly cut and is taken home in an ambulance. Driver hurries away.

A middle-aged woman learning to wheel becomes over-confident of her skill and turns too short in a bicycle academy. Her machine slips and she falls on her left foot, breaking her ankle. She is taken to a hospital.

In getting off a street car a man steps in front of a rapidly moving bicycle, is knocked about five feet, and has his left leg broken. The wheelman is thrown, but remounts and spurts away.

A stupid driver proceeds uptown on the wrong side of Eighth avenue and runs into a wheelwoman, who is thrown into the street, but is not much hurt. Her wheel is completely wrecked. Driver is locked up.

A middle-aged wheelman is run into on Eighth avenue by another wheelman and knocked off his machine. He falls under a truck and has his right arm broken. In explanation, rider No. 2 said: If I hadn't run against you I would have fallen myself." The injured man is taken to a hospital, but refuses to make a complaint against the other rider.

A fat wheelman and a slender wheelwoman, in trying to escape from a runaway horse, collide on the Boulevard and both riders strike the pavement on all fours. They suffer only from fright. A bike cop stops the horse.

In June several wheelmen were struck by cable cars at "Dead Man's Curve" and other places but it is noticeable from the above sketch that the cable road was responsible for none of the accidents to wheelmen in July. Whether that fact is due to the warning which THE SUN gave to the bicycles last month or to the slower speed at which the cars have lately rounded the curves, is left to the reader's judgement. A striking feature of last month's record is to be found in the theo largo number of children who were run down while playing in the street. And in this regard a hint may be wisely taken by parents and wheelmen alike. It appears that the troublesome, reckless driver so much complained of by cyclists came near smashing his previous records in July, a very large fraction of the month's accidents being attributed to his long-felt want of good sense.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Wheelmen - Rise and Fall (of the Use of that Word)

This is a somewhat random post, as I think about it in advance. Hmmm.

In the 1880s-90s, the term "wheelmen" was most commonly used word to describe (male) cyclists as a group. Therefore if one is using a search engine sort of approach to mining in the digitized newspapers of Chronicling America (up to 1923) or Google books, one will generally get more results using "wheelmen" than "bicyclist(s)" or "cyclist(s)."

This can be confirmed using an Ngram viewer that is available that works against the Chronicling America body of newspaper text. It returns the frequency of particular terms in the corpus over a period of time (here, 1865-1922).

Ngram results - wheelmen
"Wheelmen" (red line) rises - then falls (click image for more detailed view)

"Wheelmen" (the red line) starts up around 1890 and takes off, peaking in 1896-97, then falls just as quickly as it went up. By 1910 is practically gone. The terms "wheelman," "bicyclist" (which gets the plural also), and "cyclist" (also gets plural) have a similar trajectory to one another and also peak in 1896-97, but really it seems "cyclist" goes forward as the most used term - but not so much (per million words) as in the 1890s! (By the way, "wheelwomen" was also a term used during the late 1800s and the Ngram curve for it is like of "wheelmen" but on a lower level, going up, then down.)

Ngram results - bicycle
"Bicycle" (red) is overtaken by "automobile" (green) (click image for more detailed view)

When you open the viewer the "demonstration" search is for "telephone," "bicycle," "automobile," and "telegraph" - this shows the same rise and fall of all things bicycle in newspapers, which presumably reflects their significance in society, to some extent anyway. Of the four, "bicycle" shows the most dramatic rise - and then later, fall. It must mean something - but I'm not sure what - that the fall of "wheelmen" as a topic in newspapers starts before any significant discussion of "automobile(s)" in newspapers.

I was reminded of this in part by seeing a reference to the recently published book that uses the word "wheelmen" in the title about Lance Armstrong, Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever - talk about "rise and fall." Do anyone still want to read about Lance? I'm surprised.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The "American Girl" of 1897 - to be Thankful for on Thanksgiving

In the St. Paul Globe newspaper this article was titled "The Queen of Thanksgiving" but the same article was published in a number of newspapers across the country (with various titles). The article has a large illustration portraying the American girl (or woman, really) of 1897 in various settings.

"American Girl" & Thanksgiving (article illustration)- 1897
Full version of the illustration for the article about the "American girl" of 1897

The full text of this article in the Sunday November 21, 1897 issue of the St. Paul Globe talks about many positive aspects of the "American Girl," stating that, ". . . Thanksgiving day, '97, will find the American girl, as all other Thanksgivings have found her, not emancipated, for she never was enslaved, but free as the bright, frosty air that wooes her athletic frame, sending the bleed coursing swiftly through her veins and imprinting the charming tinge of robust health on her cheeks." One can argue that point, of course, but the description of women and cycling that follows seems to suggest that some things have been changing:
A good place to view her at her best will be from the sidewalk of any smooth-paved street of our cities, or from the pathways of macadamized country roads. Here, in the nattiest and newest of bicycle rigs, she will be seen, with her cheeks aglow, her bright eyes sparkling, her pretty hair dancing merrily in the wind, bowling along a-wheel at a pace that surely has nothing in common with chains or fetters, unless it be the bicycle chain that enables her to challenge the wind to a trial of speed and beat the old flirt in a canter. The manner in which the American girl has taken advantage of this glorious sport bears ample testimony to the fact that when she wants a thing she will have it and knows how to take the fullest advantage of what is hers by right. If the shades of the dear old grandmothers of the days of wheel and distaff could return to earth next Thursday and gather along the highways and byways where laughing, chaffing, free and happy columns of wheelwomen fly by, they will surely return to the land of shadows with feelings of regret that their lot was not cast in an era when women find more healthful means of employing their time than the laborious and confining duties of the old-fashioned home life. That the change is vastly for the better even the most disgruntled and cross-grained critic of the up to-date womanhood will admit. Instead of the pale-faced, narrow-chested woman of the wheel and distaff era, the spectator who chooses a front seat to view the passing show of Thanksgiving day '97 will see a long procession of rosy-cheeked, lithe-limbed, happy, healthy and wholesome specimens of femininity that speak contentment in every action.

"American Girl" & Thanksgiving - 1897 (detail)
Bicycling "American girls" - to be thankful for on Thanksgiving

There is a certain polemical aspect to this that speaks to the power relationship between men and women at that time which I think it is possible to separate from the way that women and and cycling are portrayed. In other words, trying to say that women are don't need emancipation because they enjoy the benefits of cycling is not a terribly good argument against emancipation, but the way women and cycling in 1897 are described here (aside from the period writing style) tells us that cycling was in fact a change for women at that time. Just not the last change . . .

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Super Cargo Bike ~ of 1898

Paging through issues online of the 1898 "Cycle Age and Trade Review" I found in the November 10, 1898 issue a remarkable article with two illustrations of what seems to be a monster cargo bike - but alas, by this time, this "cycling" journal was starting to include articles about various motorized vehicles as well.

Pope Cargo Trike Motorized)
The eye-catching cargo trike - with gasoline engine, it turns out

Pope Cargo Trike Detail
Detail view, that hides the engine from inspection

Pope Mfg. Co. of Hartford, Conn., has published a pamphlet describing the carrier vehicles shown in the accompanying illustration. The merchandise capacity of the vehicle is rated at 500 pounds under which it will give its regular speed and power. The structural strength, however, is sufficient to permit a load of 600 or 650 pounds, although under this extra weight the motor will not develop its normal speed. The form and design of the carrying bodies are not necessarily as shown, but may be varied to suit different requirements. The two styles illustrated show wide variation between a light motor truck wagon and a closed-up affair such as would be suitable for a dry goods establishment. The motor is a specially designed gasoline engine for which no water jacket or other cooling device is necessary, thereby saving many complications and much weight, says the company. A supply of gasoline which is sufficient for about 100 miles travel is carried in a tank attached to the frame between the boxes. Like all gas or gasoline motors, the first explosion must be obtained by physical effort, and bicycle cranks and pedals were adopted to give the desired result in the easiest and most satisfactory manner. By the attachment of a clutch with chain and sprocket to the shaft of the driving wheels, foot power may be used to assist the motor when on steep grades, obtaining higher speed than the auxiliary low gear of the motor would normally produce. When the cranks and pedals are not in use they remain stationary. The normal weight of this carrier vehicle is given as 750 pounds.

Pope was the manufacturer of Columbia bicycles (I was not familiar with this identity, "Pope Motor Carriers") and I had not realized the degree to which some of their motorized products were hybrids with their products as this one is. Of course this may only have been a design prospectus and never produced or sold.

It's an interesting idea, to have the pedals used for the kickstarter function to start the gasoline motor and then as a supplementary power source when useful.

Modern day cargo trike, in Portland Ore (naturally), with an electric assist motor

Monday, September 2, 2013

What to Avoid in Cycling - 1895 Article

An 1895 article concludes regular cyclists may suffer from a general vibratory condition which is mischievous and may develop an intoxication of movement among other problems. . .

The usually fee-based JSTOR has articles that are in the public domain loaded in the Internet Archive text section which is nice but they aren't particularly searchable, other than minimal metadata such as journal title, article title and author.

For example, I bumped into the article "What to avoid in cycling" from the North American Review, published in 1895. For whatever reason, the Internet Archive only gives the volume number (161) that tells you this was published in the 161st year that this journal was published, but not what year that was - then I realized you can go to the same article in JSTOR where there is better metadata.

The author Richardson is a medical doctor but his observations are a little broader than what one might expect. He also uses a somewhat extreme version of the kind of prose you meet if you read much from this time period.
From the first my impressions have been always in favor of cycling, and, to some extent, the expression of that favor on certain public occasions has, I think, helped to popularize the movement. I believe the exercise has been of the greatest service to large numbers of people. It has made them use their limbs; it has called out good mental qualities, and it has taken away from close rooms, courts and streets, hundreds of thousands of persons who would otherwise never have had the opportunity of getting into the fresh air and seeing the verdant fields and woods, the lakes and rivers, and the splendid scenery that adorn our land.
So far so good, assuming one can live with this sort of writing style. He soon transitions from positive comments about cycling, however . . .
There are dangers from cycling. The first is the danger of teaching the practice to subjects who are too young. Properly, cycling should not be carried on with any ardor while the body is undergoing its development — while the skeleton, that is to say, is as yet imperfectly developed. The skeleton is not completely matured until twenty-one years of life have been given to it.
. . . . .
We see these errors particularly well marked in the young, now that the cross-bar system of the cycle has come so generally into use. The tendency in riding is for the body to bend forward so as to bring itself almost into the curve of the front wheel, and in this position many riders hold themselves for hours, and the spine more or less permanently assumes the bent position. In plain words, the column becomes distorted, and through the whole life affects the movements of the body.

Female "scorcher"
This rider from the 1890s looks like she could be exposing herself to health risks of various kinds, according to Dr. Richardson

But wait! It gets better - I particularly like this . . .
There is often developed in the cyclist a general vibratory condition of the body which is mischievous and is shown in various acts of movement and thought. There are certain unconscious or semi-unconscious movements of the body which become sensible to the subject himself at particular moments when great steadiness is called for, as, for instance, when sitting for a photograph. There is also shown an over desire for rapidity of motion, as if it were necessary at every moment to overcome time and curtail distance by labor of an extreme degree. Lastly, there is developed a kind of intoxication of movement which grows on the mind by what it feeds on and keeps the heart under the impression that it is always requiring the stimulation of the exercise.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Leadership, Cycling, and Putin

President Barack Obama, and daughter Malia, ride bicycles
President Obama, riding a bike with family while on vacation

President Obama rides a bike from time to time while on vacation - in that bicycling-as-family-activity (that isn't golf but is vaguely sporty) sort of mode. And that's fine. Not an apparent declaration of "manliness" however. (Also fine.)

Prime Minister, Vladmir Putin, Russia with Austrian Federal Chancellor Werner Faymann
President Putin (while prime minister), presented a bike in Austria

By comparison, sometimes President, sometimes Prime Minister Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin likes to put on shows of manliness. If he isn't leading Siberian cranes while piloting an ultralight he could be tranquilizing Siberian tigers or God knows what. This article in the New York Times gives some highlights of his manly achievements.

In 2010 the prime minister of Austria tried to give (then) Prime Minister Putin an appropriately manly gift and came up with the mountain bike (shown above).

Later, in 2011, Putin and then President Medvedev went for a bike ride together - however unlike most Putin staged events, this was not very manly. Photographs of President (then prime minister) Putin and Prime Minister (then president) Medvedev - their outing on bicycles. The whole thing seems a little forced - really, they needed to go on a bike ride together? Someone at least decided that they shouldn't ride matching bicycles, so Medvedev has a kind of hybrid thing and Putin has a (nominally more manly) mountain bike - although not the one the Austrians gave him. (The Austrians were perhaps sad about this.)

President Putin shown on Russian television catching a big fish

This sort of thing, wearing camo and out in the wild, is more Putin's idea of manliness that one assumes he thinks maps to leadership in the mind of the average Russian. Of course at this point, Putin has kind of spoiled his brand in this area for more intelligent Russians because so much of this sort of thing is obviously staged. In particular, in August of 2011, a scuba dive in which he brought up ancient amphorae was revealed to have been a set up, with the items he "found" having been put there for him in advance.

Russians are reminded of this Soviet movie in which a character catches a fish that is put on the line for him

So when Russians saw that he had caught a huge pike in a YouTube video or on the evening news, many doubtlessly were reminded of the above scene in a classic Soviet film where a fish is put on the line for someone to catch. Is this that manly? (By the way.)

Of course, there are different kinds of leadership - an article appeared recently about Pope Francis: "Avoid fast cars and ride a bike instead pope tells trainee priests"

Pope Francis revealed that it pains him when he sees a nun or priest driving an expensive car, and he praised the beauty of the bicycle, noting his 54-year-old personal secretary, Msgr Alfred Xuereb, gets around on a bike.

Pope Francis seems OK with bicycles.

People who have nothing better to do than be interviewed on CNN have been worried that he doesn't ride around in a sufficiently tank like vehicle as pope - while in Brazil, a former Secret Service agent in a whiny tone explained that the Pope's "handlers" much be crazy to allow the people of Brazil so much close access to him - and that he used a car and not the armored "PopeMobile." (See this item for example.)

bush in kolo
Then President Bush, a more serious mountain bike rider

Different leaders find manliness in different places, though. President Bush (II) was an avid mountain biker.

President Obama attempts to prove something by being photographed firing a shotgun

A bicycle would certainly not have solved this problem (whatever it was) for President Obama. Someone found him a gun. Someone else got a camera.

So perhaps there is no connection between leadership and cycling.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Washington, May, Cycling - in 1897

In the late 1890s, at the height of the "bicycle craze," some newspapers catered to their bicycle-mad readers by providing pages of dedicated cycling coverage on a regular basis. The Washington (DC) "Evening Star" had full page coverage of cycling, from local events and activities to races nearby and in other cities, as well as descriptions of new equipment - such pages over time were titled "Wheels & Riders" and "Wheels & Wheelmen."

Wheels and Wheelmen

A full page for cyclists in a Washington newspaper of 1897

The full page of articles from this May 22 issue, for example, covers the problem of crowds of riders on the weekend during good weather in May, and particularly police activities to control "scorchers."
According to the forecast of the weather slight rains are predicted for tomorrow. Last Sunday the weather was propitious in all respects for cycling. The light wind which prevailed the greater part of the day was just sufficient to keep the riders from becoming overheated. An unusually large number of cyclists were out on the roads. Maying parties were numerous and the hunt for the pretty wild flowers seemed to have particular fascination for the riders of the fair sex.
A "Maying party" was apparently just a picnic organized in May, according to "The Complete Hostess" of 1912.
. . . It is understood that the entire police cycle squad of the city have been ordered out on the Conduit road for duty tomorrow. They will endeavor to suppress the scorchers. and in this laudable undertaking they will have the support of the largest number of riders for pleasure purposes only. The arrest of a dozen or more scorchers would have a salutary effect, and doubtless put a stop to the practice for a week or so at least.

In this connection an amusing story is told of an occurrence that happened last Sunday. There were several tandems coming down the road at an eighteen-mile-an-hour gait, when one of the mounted members of the county police force called upon them to slacken their speed. Just as the scorchers passed by the policeman he heard one of the riders urge the others to keep on, telling them that the cop would never be able to catch them. In this the riders were sadly mistaken. The policeman quickly jumped on his horse, and in an instant was after the two tandem teams. With a l00 yards start of him the policeman caught the men inside of 300 yards, and fearing the result the riders of both tandems ran their machine over in a ditch, fortunately escaping injury. They were a very humble and penitent set, and, after considerable pleading, were allowed to go. According to the policeman's theory he can overtake any scorcher on the road. They can cover a mile in something like 2.50 says he, while he would not use a horse which could not run the distance in two minutes or under, for cases of emergency. The other members of the mounted county police force are equally well mounted.

Wheels and Riders
A full page for cyclists from the Washington "Evening Star" in February 1897, in advance or the "cycling season"

These pages often give statistical information about the scale of cycling at the time, which is interesting up to the point where I realize I don't have much of a sense of the modern day equivalents. Also, in 1897 most of the bicycles that would have been purchased would have been used, while today most bicycles in America are in some version of long term storage most of the time. The page from which the graphic shown above was taken includes this:
With a basis of 40,000 wheelmen and wheel women in the city, the following would represent the aggregate cost of bicycles in the District of Columbia alone:

Cost of wheels $3,200,000
Cost of lamps $ 100,000
Cost of bells $ 10,000
Cost of oil and wicks $ 10,000
Cost of costumes and caps $ 600,000
Cost of shoes $ 100,000
Cost of stockings $ 40,000
Cost of repairs $ 120,000
Cost of incidentals $ 200,000
Total outlay for cycling $4,380,000

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"A [Bicycle] Road Race in Japan" - 1896

From Referee & Cycle Trade Journal for March 12, 1896. May of the articles about cycling in foreign countries in this publication reflect the interest of some of the readership in the potential for selling American bicycles abroad but there is also something of a human interest angle evident as well. This article says nothing useful about the possibilities for selling American bikes in Japan but at least describes their being raced there - all the bicycles used in the race described were American. It isn't clear, but if all the riders were not also American, they were at least not Japanese. (In fact, the only Japanese aspects of the race were the locale and the prizes, "all beautifully made and artistically modeled in the best native styles."

I have included here the entire text of the article as published and both illustrations. The text includes some interesting details, such as the "gear" of the bicycles, a number representing the "gear inches" of each, since each bike was a fixed gear bicycle (with only one gear available as ridden). The weights of the riders are also given, and while several of the riders were 150 pounds or less, the winner was surprisingly heavy at 176.

The article is amusingly evangelistic about the different American brands in use by the riders.

Bicycle road race in Japan


Interesting Account in a Letter from Yokohama—Won on a Rambler.

The following very interesting account of a road race in Japan is taken from a letter to the Gormully & Jeffery Manufacturing Company from Mr. MacArthur, of H. MacArthur & Co., Rambler agents at Yokohama. For the accompanying cuts the Referee is also indebted to the courtesy of the Chicago company. The letter is dated at Yokohama, Feb. 11, and reads in part as follows:
"We advised you not long ago that on the 1st of this month, weather permitting, the first road race, properly organized, ever run in the neighborhood would take place, the course being from Yokohama to Kodza, starting outside the city, a distance of thirty-two miles. February 1 happened to be election day for this prefect, and the police authorities, desiring to do all that was possible to help on the race, desired us to select another day, rather than hamper them with too much responsibility on such a busy day. We, of course, postponed the race, and had it rather on the 8th, Saturday last.

"There were nine competitors, rather we should say entrants, two dropping out, while a third fell out of rank on the morning of the race. The weather was perfect, and the men lined up well. We enclose photo showing the starters. Beginning from the left of the picture, the starters are: H. F. Arthur, on a Dayton, gear 68, rider weighing 162 pounds; E. Adet, on a Rambler, gear 66, rider weighing 176 pounds; H. A. Poole, on a Columbia, gear 70, rider weighing 150 pounds; J. M. Scott, on a Dayton, gear 68, rider weighing 140 pounds; L. W. Eyton, on a Rambler, gear 63, rider weighing 138 pounds. One young fellow, S. S. Kuhn, had been by general consent of the riders allowed five minutes start, and does not appear in the picture. He rode a Crescent. This youngster made remarkably good use of his allowance, and was only collared at Totsuka, about nine miles on his journey, by Adet. Kuhn was rather pumped, but Adet was going freely and strong.

"Arthur got rather the better of the start, but Scott shot ahead in a few yards and Eyton was close on his heels. A mile out Arthur's chain snapped, and he was at once out of the race.

Japan Race Winner 1896

Adet had the worst of the start, but at the first hill pulled up on the others and at Totsuka collared the allowance man, and from then seemed to be having it all his own way, riding freely and increasing his lead, till he had ill luck to collide with a native cart on a small bridge, twenty miles out, the driver of which in his excitement and fear of death from the flying wheel carefully swung the cart across, entirely blocking the bridge. Poor Adet got the buttress at full speed, with the very natural result of a front wheel smashed and the chagrin of knowing that he was no longer in the race. Eight minutes later the advance man was up to him, and in another three Eyton passed still going well and stronger than ever. From this on the race was Eyton's, who won as he liked in 1:58. Kuhn came in at 11:03:15, and Poole took third place, coming in at 11:13.

"Eyton had a serious fall at Totsuka, colliding with the ubiquitous cart and twisting his handlebars. Jamming these against a tree, he got them straight and remounted, never observing that in doing so he bad reversed his front wheel. The whole thing had turned in the bearing, and he continued his ride and won his race, serenely unconscious that aught was amiss with his wheel. A bystander, an expert in wheels, seeing the machine at the finish, declared that it had undergone the severest test a wheel could be put to, and come out unscathed. Formerly he had fancied other wheels, but this experience converted him. This makes the second race this identical wheel has won—there have only been two—the other being two miles on the track, when it had to compete against Columbias and other wheels of 70 gear and over. Adet rode it on that occasion, and won a handsome bronze medal, given by us, as first prize. The prizes on this last race deserve a word or two. The first was a gold medal, value $25, the second a silver, and the third a bronze; all beautifully made and artistically modeled in the best native styles."

It is worthy of note that all the wheels ridden in this race were of American make, there being two Ramblers, two Daytons, one Columbia and one Crescent. The unique and most severe test given to Eyton's wheel after his fall at Totsuka was another notable incident of the race and was a splendid advertisement of the sterling qualities of the Rambler.
In articles that are more than 100 years old, there are often surprises in the language used. I was struck by the sentence, "Kuhn was rather pumped, but Adet was going freely and strong." I was surprised by the usage "rather pumped" - presumably this means the same thing that it would to day? Given the comparison to Adet, who was "going freely and strong" it is hard to tell.

Also, the article says that this bicycle race was "the first road race, properly organized, ever run in the neighborhood " - is this supposed to mean that this was the first organized road race in Japan, or more literally in the region of Japan where it took place?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The State of Cycling in Russia, June 1897

Американский обзор езды на велосипеде в России 1897

From The Wheel and Cycling Trade Review - an extended overview of cycling in Russia, primarily with an eye to business opportunities selling American bicycles in Russia. What is the market? Who is riding? Why? And so on. The list of regulations governing cycling in Russia are, to say the least, daunting. The Czar's empire took second to no country in this area.

I have reproduced the text of the entire article here as well as including an image of part of the article as it appeared in the original publication (on rather brown paper ~).
In the Land of the Czar

Washington, D. C, June 11, 1897. Consul-General Karel, at St. Petersburg, has transmitted a special report to the State Department concerning cycling in Russia. Mr. Karel prefaces his report by saying that as so many inquiries have reached his office concerning the state of the bicycle trade in Russia he thought that a report to the department on the subject would not be inappropriate.

Of course, on account of the severe climate, bicycles can be used only in the summer.

Very little riding is done until after May 1st. Before any person is permitted to ride he must first pass an examination before some cycling association, of recognised standing and secure a certificate of proficiency. When this is obtained the applicant must present himself before the proper city authority, and by exhibiting his certificate will receive a permit to ride. The permit is issued without any charge, but all riders must pay a certain amount in revenue stamps and must provide themselves with a book of rules and regulations, which is sold by the city and costs about $1.13. The permit is good for one year and dates from May 1st.

Upon the payment of another fee a registered number for the bicycle is issued. This number is in plain white figures on a red plate and must be fastened to the machine both on the front and on the back, so as to be clearly visible to the police and public in case any mishap occurs or there is any breach of the regulations.

Land of Czar

The regulations provide that:

1. Only "low" wheels, or safeties, shall be ridden, and that each rider shall always carry his permit guaranteeing proficiency. Before the permit is issued the rider must file with the City Governor a photograph of himself, to be used in cases of trouble.

2. Every bicycle must be furnished with a bell and at night with a light, and the numbers spoken of must be in sight; that on the front, so as to be seen from either side of the wheel and that on the back, from the rear or the front.

3. Every rider must carry with him at all times, and must show to the police when required, his book of regulations.

4. Fast riding is prohibited.

6. All riders meeting pedestrians, vehicles, or other riders must keep to the right.

6. When passing pedestrians or vehicles going in the same direction riders must keep to the left.

7. When approaching corners or when near pedestrians riders must ring their bells, but bells must not be rung needlessly.

8. If horses take fright riders must get off their wheels and lead them, and when in crowds must do the same.

9. Wheelmen may not ride abreast, and where there is a party of them there must be at least fourteen feet of space between the riders.

10. Riders must not ride or lead their wheels on the sidewalk,

11. Riding in bicycle costume without a coat is prohibited.

12. Riding on certain streets named by the City Governor is not permitted.

13. Any violation of any of these regulations causes the rider to forfeit his permitand it cannot be renewed for another year.

Previous to February 1st, 1897, women were prohibited from using the wheel, but now the restriction has been removed. There are in St. Petersburg four bicycle clubs and in the suburbs three more. In all there are about 7,000 cyclists in the Capital.

Wheels are imported in large numbers, principally from Germany, England and the United States, the proportion being in the order named.

There are five factories in Russia which manufacture bicycles, two being in St. Petersburg, one in Moscow, one in Warsaw, and one in Riga. There are a number of smaller concerns hardly large enough to be called factories where wheel parts after being imported are assembled.

Two of the factories spoken of are English, that at Warsaw being the establishment of the Singer Cycle Co:, and that at Moscow of the Humber Works.

Wheels made in Russia sell for from $42 to $67, the German wheels from $77 to $92.50, the English wheels from $82 to $128.50, and the American wheels from $103 to $128.50. Although the American wheels are the most expensive, they are preferred on account of their superior finish and their greater durability. Only the high-grade American wheels have been imported.

The whole number of wheels imported in 1896 was 10,609. The duty on finished wheels is about $9.26 per wheel; on unfinished wheels in parts, is about $6.18 each.
Sovremennyi velosiped (1895) - my scan (современный велосипед)
Examples of bicycles in an 1895 Russian book

Another earlier 1895 American look at Russian cycling.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inaugural Simplicity - 1895 View


From The St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The next President of the United States will have a glorious opportunity to emulate Jeffersonian simplicity by riding to his Inauguration on a bicycle and going through the ceremony with his trousers tied in at the ankles.
New York Tribune filler item July 28, 1895.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

1897 View on "Woman and the Bicycle"

This book, The Out of door library. Athletic sports. published in 1897, has several chapters about cycling, including "Woman and the Bicycle" by Marguerite Merington. Apparently Ms. Mergington was a playwright. And the bibliographic record tells us that "The chapters in this volume originally appeared in Scribner's magazine."

The text is a little high-flown, or something.
Woman and the Bicycle
By Marguerite Merington

The collocation of woman and the bicycle has not wholly outgrown controversy; but if the woman's taste be for the royal pleasure of glowing exercise in sunlit air, she will do well quietly but firmly to override argument with the best model of a wheel to which she may lay hand.

Never did an athletic pleasure from which the other half is not debarred come into popularity at a more fitting time than cycling has to-day, when a heavy burden of work is laid on all the sisterhood, whether to do good, earn bread, or squander leisure; no outdoor pastime can be more independently pursued, and few are as practicable as many days in a year. The one who fain would ride, and to whom a horse is a wistful dream, at least may hope to realize a wheel. Once purchased, it needs only to be stabled in a passageway, and fed on oil and air.

No, this is not nearly as readable as Bicycling for Ladies written by Maria Ward and published in 1896.

Interesting that the text does reveal something about the anticipated pace of riding for a woman rider:
An hour of the wheel means sixty minutes of fresh air and wholesome exercise, and at least eight miles of change of scene; it may well be put down to the credit side of the day's reckoning with flesh and spirit.
Also, as usual much time is spent discussing the best attire for women riders. Here the author indicates that for some riders, special attire was not practical since they might be riding to or from work (for example) that would obviate the ability to wear anything other than clothes suitable for the destination - and that this is OK.
Short rides on level roads can be accomplished with but slight modification of ordinary attire ; and the sailor-hat, shirt-waist, serge skirt uniform, is as much at home on the bicycle as it is anywhere else the world over. The armies of women clerks in Chicago and Washington who go by wheel to business, show that the exercise within bounds need not impair the spick-and-spandy neatness that marks the bread-winning American girl.
The phrase, "armies of women clerks" reminds me of the 1899 video of Parke-Davis employees leaving at the end of the work day that shows a fair number of bicycle riders, both men and women - dressed not in special cycling clothes but in their regular work attire (or so it appears).

As usual, poor cycling posture is subject to criticism, but a man is used to model this rather than a woman

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sarah Grand & Cycling - A Later View (1899)

Sarah Grand was a British feminist who traveled in the United States to lecture (and presumably sell more of her books). In an earlier post, I looked at an 1897 article about her suggestions for optimal cycling attire for women. (This article was published as filler material in a number of newspapers in the United States.)

I have since found a similar sort of filler item, but a shorter one from 1899, Sarah Grand and Her Bike, that uses a photo of Ms. Grand to demonstrate that she was not a "new woman" who practiced what she preached - she did not "ride in bloomers or trousers."

Sarah Grand with Bicycle
Illustration with article from the Kansas City Journal., June 04, 1899

The Creator of the "New Woman" Does Not Hide in Bloomers or Trousers.
From the New York Journal

Sarah Grand, the author of "The Heavenly Twins" and the creator of the new woman in literature, rides a bicycle. We might expect her to ride in bloomers or trousers, or some other garment unlike any thing worn by the "old" woman, but instead of that we find her dressed in skirts of a decorous and graceful length.

Mme Sarah Grand has had herself photographed in bicycling costume just as she is about to mount her wheel. She has had this done because she wishes the public to know just what an ideal new woman looks like. You may see her on this page.

Sarah Grand is entitled by marriage to bear the good old Irish name of "McFall," but with curious taste she prefers the remarkably pretentious name of "Grand." Her husband was an army surgeon and she was separated from him. It is said that he was the original of the wicked colonel In "The Heavenly Twins," who was fond of long glasses of brandy and soda and of pretty girls, and for these sins was boycotted by his voting wife and brought to a sudden and terrible end by the author.

Sarah Grand is engaged regularly in literary work, but she achieved no success comparable to that of "The Heavenly Twins."

The full article as it appeared

A little research reveals that the photograph of Sarah Grand that was the basis for the newspaper illustration, claiming to show her as a "new woman" not wearing her suggested cycling attire was from 1896, before she made her declaration against using traditional women's clothing for cycling.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Santa on Bike; Letters to Santa, 1897

Santa Riding a Bike (1897)

From the Richmond Dispatch newspaper, December 19, 1897. Illustration above accompanied the text of dozens of letters to Santa Claus from children in Richmond Virginia, including these that have requests for bicycles.
Dear Santy Claus:
I want you to bring me a bicycle, a lock-bracletle, a doll-baby, sewing machine, and nuts, candies, fruit of all kind,and popcracker all kind; and bring them to my address, 216 N. 21 St.
Your little friend.
The next letter is from the same family ~

Dear Saunta Cause:
Please bring me a gun, a pound of shot, a bicycle, and some fireworks; that is all. I live at No. 216 21st Street.
Your little boy.

1212 Floyd Avenue,
Dear Santa Claus:
I want a bicycle and a watch and chain and a harp and a drum. That's all.
Your little boy, ELLETT READY.

Dear Santa Claus:
I wish you would bring me a bicycle and a bunch of switches; a pack of popcrackers, a box of candy, a air-rifle, and a pound of shot. Yours truly,
1401 Grove avenue.
Several letters are worded as if Santa's delivery of the items personally isn't part of how they understand things ~

Dear Santa Claus:
Richmond. Va. Dec. 2d.
Please send me a bycycle, and it will be thankfully received.
Yours respectively,

Dear Santa Claus:
Please send a bicycle and a wagon & goat and harness. From your little boy,
1123 Floyd Ave., Richmond, Va
A number of letters included requests for others ~

Dear Santa Claws:
I am a little boy 3 1/2 years old. I want you to bring me a bicycle, and a pack of popcrackers, a horn, and some candy. Phase bring Minerva (our colored girl) a bicycle, too, and my little brother Harold, something pretty. I am going to be a good boy, and go to bed real soon. Please come, Santa Claus; don't forget.
I was surprised by the extent of the requests made by many of the children's letters; this one balances that out somewhat.

Richmond, Va,
207 S. Pine St
Dear Santa Clause:
Christmas is nearly here, and I would like for you to bring me something nice. I will be thankful for anything that you bring me. From your little boy,

A few years ago I had a blog post with the similar illustration, shown below, taken from an ad for Stearns bicycles from the bicycle industry journal "Cycling Life" (issue for December 24 issue, 1896).

Santa On Bike (1896, Cycling Life)