Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bicycle Parts Named, 1898 Version

Taken from The Modern Bicycle and its Accessories: A Complete Reference Book for Rider, Dealer and Maker. New York: Commercial Advertiser Association, 1898. Digitized version from Google, a rare example of a book digitized by Google from the Library of Congress General Collections.

Modern Bicycle Reference Book Title Page (1898)
Above, the title page

Note that Google only got the first part of the title correct ("The Modern Bicycle") and made part of the title into the author - "By Rider Dealer and Makerr". Oops.

Parts of a Bicycle (1898)
A detailed listing of all the parts of the bike

If you click on the image you can get to a better version on Flickr. It is probably an artifact of Google's efforts that the text is straight but the image of the bicycle is not. Also, the poor image quality is another sign of Google digitization. I think this would have been done very early in their digitization efforts.

"Extreme Type" of 1898 Bicycle
An amusing example of the most "up to date" model - a racing bike, presumably

Note the rather large front ring. This almost looks like a bike used with a lead bicycle (with three or four riders) that the rider of this bike would draft behind.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Arlington (VA) Survey of Area Cyclists

This short article summarizes a study of Arlington cyclists.

Here are the survey results. The survey results include information gathered in 2009 and 2011. Apparently they stopped riders on the trail to administer the survey.

The point of the survey, besides understanding who bikes in Arlington and why, was to assess the BikeArlington program.
BikeArlington scored high satisfaction ratings in the survey. 79% of respondents reporting they were satisfied with the service, and more than half (54%) of BikeArlington users have already recommended the program to someone else. Most importantly, almost half of those who used BikeArlington services reported making a change in their biking behavior!!
I confess I don't think of BikeArlington as a service and other than providing rider instruction and managing the bike trail system and bike lanes, I don't know what they do, in the sense of being able to "recommend the program to someone else." And making a "change in their biking behavior. . . ?" Hm.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Good List of New Cycling Books ~

Podium Cafe has a nice list of new books about different aspects of cycling. Something fun to peruse!

It mentions that there will be a fourth edition of The Dancing Chain! Who would have guessed there was so much about bicycle chains (well, and the rest of the drive train too) to update!

Contrasts in Rider Attire - Women Century Riders 1897

The photos below are taken from the C.R.C. Manual compiled by Will L. Krietenstein for the Century Road Club of America in 1898. In the middle are a number of posed photos of century ride champions, including two women.

Champion woman cyclist, 1897 - Mrs. Allen
More manly attire, as shown on this page

Champion woman cyclist, 1897 - Mrs. Matheis
More traditional attire, as shown on this page

Since the photos were posed in two different photographers' studios, one wonders if the second rider actually rode with such a long coat and that particular sort of wind-catching hat; still, one sees other photos of women on bikes in similar attire at that time (but not, presumably, riding 100 mile intervals). The first rider's attire is noteworthy for its practicality. One senses that this may even be her own bike that she has brought to the photography session, with its tool bag attached under the top tube. (I assume that in the first one the bike is a photographer's prop and not her own since it was taken in St. Louis and she was the champion of Minnesota.)

Given that these images are captured from Google book scans rendered in poor grayscale, they are not too bad, I think.

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest with Bikes

The New Yorker has a cartoon each week that users can captions for - this week's shows two angels (with haloes), both holding bikes at their sides. One is talking to the other. They are standing in the clouds and in the background another angel can be seen riding on a cloud on his bicycle. These three angels are the only ones visible, so apparently in this heaven one has a bike.

Here's the link although next week it will change.

One has to suggest a caption by January 1 to compete. It seems like I should have some sort of idea, but nothing is coming to me.

Cartoon brawing by Mick Stevens - Contest #316, January 2, 2012.

Kickstarter Funded Bike Travel

Reading Kickstarter proposals and seeing what success they have is an interesting way of learning something about human nature. There aren't that many connected with cycling but the few I see are interesting. Most are seeking funding for products related to bicycles for which they believe there is a market; some are for projects that are for projects that use bicycles as the delivery system - vegan baked goods provided on a bicycle sales cart, for example. A few are proposals to fund bicycle travel of one sort or another.

I am puzzled why this fellow's proposal was approved by the Kickstarter folks - it doesn't seem a likely candidate. Kickstarter is mostly, in my observation, about fun and then secondarily some "feel good, do good-ism" but in more high level ways (like funding portaits of South Africans and their bicycles.

A mystery is how this fellow can have 245 Facebook friends and only raise a total of five (5!) dollars (from five people).

There is a long history of riding long trips around the United States or even around the world that started with the "ordinary" bicycles of the 1860s but grew with the development of the more modern "safety" bicycle that is much like today's bikes, funding the travel with ad hoc fundraising along the way. In the 1890s Annie Londonderry funded her travel around the world by raising the money as she went along, primarily by giving talks (for which she was paid) and selling various momentoes. At the end she supposedly received $10,000 from a wager that she couldn't complete the trip.

Map from book "Around the United States by Bicycle" (1906)
In 1904 two men used this route to win a $5,000 wager by visiting all 48 states in 18 months

Friday, December 23, 2011

Columbia Bicycle Co. History

I have been reading Bruce Epperson's Peddling Bicycles to America: The Rise of an Industry - it is very good and I will write more about that later (as a book review).

Meanwhile, I found this article online about Colonel Albert Pope that provides a nice brief history of his life and Columbia Bicycles (although not so much about the bicycles . . . )

Pope was influential in the "good roads" movement that sought to improve the conditions for cycling (and thus the sales of bicycles, particularly Columbia bicycles) - this photo (from 1937) shows the one million signatures gathered in 1892 to support federal assistance for construction of better roads. (They apparently couldn't throw the thing away so were at a loss, it seems, to know what to do with it.)
National Archives to get 1892 petition for building of better roads. Washington, D.C., April 30. A petition containing over one million names submitted to the United States Senate in 1892 requesting legislation, "for the purpose of promoting knowledge in the art and construction and maintenance of roads" is to be removed from the Capitol and deposited in the National Archives building.
Pope started out by pricing his bikes under the competition, but by 1897 he was attempting to appeal to those who might understand that low price wasn't everything ~

Understanded Columbia Bicycles Ad
An appeal to reason by Columbia

This ad, and the text below, both came from an 1897 issue of "Cycling Life".

On the same page as the Columbia ad is this "article" that one assumes was supplied by Columbia itself - this sort of thing seems fairly common in this publication, which was produced for bicycle resellers ("the trade") and not for consumers. The line between advertisements and journalism was blurred, to say the least.
Columbia Excel.

A comparison between the smooth running features of Columbia bicycles and those of other makes, reveals at once the superiority of the former. The entire concentrated energy of the army of mechanical experts at the great Hartford factories has been directed during the past year to the perfection of these qualities, and nothing has been omitted that could aid in keeping Columbia s in their universallv recognized position — the standard of the world. The famous crank shaft mechansm, which was the wonder of last year's running gear inventions, has been retained in its original form, having proved a triumph in the art of cycle building. The Columbia bearings are unequalled, and run with a smoothness hitherto unknown. The light, correctly shaped saddles will carry Columbia riders further with less fatigue than any others, and their perfect fitting qualities enable the rider to retain a firm seat and control of the wheel, giving the grace of personal carriage which distinguishes the Columbia rider above all others. Considered from an artistic, mechanical,useful, or any other standpoint, there is but one best bicycle—the Columbia.

Article - Columbia Excel.
The brief "news item" about how good Columbia bicycles remain in 1897

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Young Bicycle Messengers From ~100 Years Ago

Lewis Hine took thousands of photographs that make up the National Child Labor Committee Collection that was used to document terrible conditions for working children - the photographs were used to support arguing that laws should protect children.

The photos below are from the Library of Congress collection and are just a few of 159 at the Library of Congress (although not all show bicycles . . . ) - they are quite amazing.

Lewis Hine - Bicycle Messenger
Group of Western Union Messengers in Norfolk, Va. 1911

Lewis Hine - Bicycle Messenger
Leo Day, Postal Telegraph Messenger, 12 years old, and a very knowing lad. Tampa, Florida. 1911

Lewis Hine - Bicycle Messenger
Isaac Boyett, "I'm de whole show." Waco, Texas. 1913

The caption continues: The twelve year old proprietor, manager and messenger of the Club Messenger Service, 402 Austin Street, Waco. The photo shows him in the heart of the Red Light district where he was delivering messages as he does several times a day. Said he knows the houses and some of the inmates. Has been doing this for one year, working until 9:30 P.M. Saturdays. Not so late on other nights. Makes from six to ten dollars a week.

Déesse 16, rue Halévy, Paris - Lovely Poster

Déesse 16, rue Halévy, Paris
Déesse 16, rue Halévy, Paris, Jean de Paleologue, born 1855, artist

One print (poster), lithograph, color ; 149.9 x 110.5 cm. (That is, about 60 inches on the long dimension.) From about 1898.

Permanent Link is

As of December 22, 2011, not yet online but will be soon. I got an advance copy . . .

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bicycle Crime in Ukraine

I found this news item online, in Russian, about a bicycle theft in Ukraine. The following is my edited translation. (I started with the Google version . . . )
In Kharkiv two drunken women robbed a pensioner

December 16, 2011

According to the correspondent of the Kharkiv Press Service of the Main Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine (that is, the police) in the Kharkiv region, the incident happened in the village Kochetovka Zachepilovskii area.

That evening the two women were at a party. They eventually tried to go home when the buses were no longer running. They did not have money for a taxi. They decided to "borrow" the money or any transportation from a 72-year-old local resident.

Knowing that the pensioner lived alone, the women boldly opened the gate to his yard and began banging on the windows of the house. They called the man into the yard and asked him to give them money or a bike to ride home. The surprised man opened the gate and tried to drive the drunk women out of the yard, explaining that he did not know them and did not plan to give them anything. Then they pushed the owner, went into the hallway and found the keys to the shed where there was a bicycle, and left. The man called the police - the suspects were arrested for the the crime and spent a few days in jail. The women again came to the pensioner's home and they took metal materials from his yard in order to sell them for scrap. "They have been detained [again] as criminals," - the press service says.

This is now a criminal case under Article 186 (robbery) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

A bicycle in this part of the world

Incidentally, the main factory for sports bicycles in the former Soviet Union was not far away, the Khar'kov Bicycle Factory - here is one of their catalogs.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Why Cyclists May Avoid "Their" Bike Lanes

Bridge over Four Mile Run, Walter Reed Drive
My dog isn't too interested, but the dedicated bike lane has some issues

A classic example of how the bike lane, created with much (ok, not much) fanfare when this bridge was resurfaced a few years ago, has become the place for little trashy crap kicked up by the passing cars - just the sort of thing to flat a bike tire. Mighty convenient for all of it to be stored right there in a special lane just for the bikes (and their tires)!

Bridge over Four Mile Run, Walter Reed Drive
Close-up shows how much crap is in the bike lane

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cyclists Annoying Cyclists, or Drivers? Or Both.

Bicycling magazine has had an increase in ad revenue but it's apparently too much to hope that the magazine would be more pleasing to read (at least for me). Fancy road bikes for "only" $2,xxx dollars, products you don't need from Rapha and the like, and then there's the edgy interview with "Alleycat Racer Lucas Brunelle."
Q: Do you worry that you're making drivers hate cyclists?

A: Mostly it's other riders who get pissed. . . But motorists generally don't have a problem with us. We're not blocking traffic like Critical Mass. We know when we're in the way, which most riders don't.
Well, maybe. Mr. Brunelle is a videographer (according to Wikipedia) who made the movie for which the following is the trailer, which glorifies riding in as many risky ways as possible in an urban environment.

A heroic fellow, no doubt. Of course nothing's perfect - in order to make these videos, he has to ride his bike like this:

Cameras facing fore and aft, all strapped to his head

Anyway, I'm pretty sure he is at least partially wrong about who is mad at whom and why. The cyclists who ride more or less like rational people, rightly in my view, of course are annoyed by someone who is out there making cylists look like idiots - but the motorists are plenty unhappy as well. Since they are in their hermetically sealed cars or other vehicles, this point seems to not to have made its way into Brunelle's conciousness plus he is likely most often leaving them behind in traffic. So that's good (for him) as long as nothing goes wrong - because I don't think anyone will be rushing to help him.

I'm puzzled why Bicycling magazine seems to be suggesting that something about this guy is worthy of admiration.