Saturday, November 8, 2014

A "Sociable Bicycle" from 1892 in 1922

Human interest photo from Washington Times issue, April 21 1922

This sort of bicycle was introduced in the 1890s as a way of resolving various issues likely perceived with men and women sharing conventional tandems - basically, shouldn't the woman ride in front? One attempt to deal with this was to rig up handlebars for the rider in back that also controlled the steering. Anyway, the Punnett "companion side-seated bicycle" was an attempt to solve the problem by putting the riders on a single two-wheel frame bicycle next to each other.

This bicycle never caught on, of course, presumably because of the manufacturing cost combined with the dexterity to ride it (or perhaps just the appearance that dexterity would be required?) and the relative simplicity of a more standard tandem, despite the "who sits in front" issue.

Thus in the 1920s this bicycle would be featured as a human interest item - although I think the Washington Times got the date wrong; I think these bicycles were introduced only in 1896, not 1892.

Ad for side-by-side Punnett tandem shown from 1896

Despite ads in publications and articles written about this clever bicycle, it never caught on.

One comment - the age of the bike isn't that big a deal, at least not for a well-maintained bicycle.

Thirty year-old bicycle that I ride much of the time to and from work

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