"The bicycle era is given credit for revolutionizing individual travel, for leveling social distinction (was a flat tire ever a respecter of persons?) and for creating a lobby for good roads. It has been said that it was literally the bicycle that paved the way for the automobile.
"As a further revolutionary force the women recognize the bicycle as the instrument that freed them from voluminous petticoats, false bustles and the old fashioned corset. In 1865 a wooded velocipede appeared on the streets of Paris, developed by a Frenchman who worked in a carriage shotp. The wheels were solid, encased in iron rims. Later the idea was taken to England where iron and steel replaced the wood frame. It was an Englishman, H. J. Lawson, who, in 1876, built the first bicycle driven by chain and sprocket through the rear wheel.
"Bicycle racing as revived by the Redmond Bicycle Derby, reflects the national sport of the "Gay Nineties," when all America was a-wheel. Records set in the last decade of the 19th century still stand. Major Taylor rode a flying-start, unpaced mile in 1:32 which set a world record that has not been bettered in more than 53 years. A man by the name of Murphy earned the cognomen of "mile-a-minute" riding a mile in fifty-seven and four-fifth second on a board track laid between the rails, paced by a Long Island Railroad Engine.
"The fad was not confined to speed-demons of those days. All America was cycling singly, on bicycles built for two, for three, and for five. The family sock was emptied to purchase vehicles rather than pianos.
"But it was an Irishman named Dunlop, a Belfast veterinarian, who speeded up the whole program by inventing the pneumatic tire.
"Early models bore such names as Winton, Rambler, Dayton and Pierce. Many pioneers in the bicycle field also pioneered in the automobile industry. The Rambler was later the Nash. The Pope-Toledo car, build by Colonel Alexander Pope, was later produced as the Willys-Overland.
"Contrary to many fads the bicycle was never relegated to the limbo of the past as faster vehicles wre developed. Nowadays the ratio is one bicycle to every ten persons. In 1899 it was one to every twelve. "
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