Virtue of the velocipede

Virtue of the velocipede

David Herlihy on the history of the bicycle from the new Scientia Curiosa:

The basic bicycle, or “velocipede,” debuted in Paris during the Universal Exhibition of 1867. “A Revolution in Locomotion,” effused the New York Times correspondent, adding that the slender vehicle could fly through the air at speeds approaching twelve miles an hour.


Despite its crude construction, consisting of an 80-pound solid iron frame mounted on wooden carriage wheels with no tires, hopes ran high that the bicycle would soon serve as the “poor man’s horse.”

Around 1900:

[Frank Lenz] set off … on a new-fangled “safety” bicycle (the modern prototype) determined to become the most famous and remarkable of all the “globe girdlers.” In a sense, he would succeed.

How far we’ve come.