Pedal through the Past

Penny-farthingBicycles are a great way to travel, exercise, and experience the outdoors. With the wide variety of bikes on the market, everyone can find a bicycle to fit their lifestyle. The first “bicycle” however, didn’t even have pedals. The “Draisienne,” forerunner to the modern bicycle,  was composed of two wheels connected to a frame. The rider would straddle the frame and propel forward in a fast, gliding walk. Similar two-wheeled vehicles were known as velocipedes until the 1860s when the term “bicycle” first appeared. Around the same time, French carriage-maker Ernest Michaux attached pedals to the front wheel of a velocipede. Michaux’s velocipedes became known as “boneshakers” since the wooden device with its iron tires made for a bumpy ride over the cobblestone streets of the time.

After the boneshaker, advances in metalworking led to the development of the first all-metal bicycle. The High-wheeler, or “penny-farthing” as it was called in Great Britain, allowed riders to cycle faster but proved dangerous. Pedals were attached to the larger, rubber-made front wheel with the rider seated above it. A sudden stop or obstruction in the road would send the rider crashing to the ground headfirst. The invention of the safety bicycle in the 1880s replaced these high-wheelers; the design featured two wheels of the same size with the rider seated between them. The addition of inflated rubber tires in 1888 also improved the ease and safety of the bicycle. Cycling became enormously popular throughout Europe and the United States. Women, previously barred from riding because of their long dresses, were now able to participate and cyclist clubs in the 1890s pushed for better roads to ride on, paving the way for the automobile.

By the 20th century, the bicycle was a popular means of transportation and recreation. As the cycle SOS magazine constantly reminds us that, in the United States however, the advent of the automobile led to a decline in bicycle popularity. Bicycles were considered toys for children until the 1970s when people recognized the bicycle as an environment-friendly method of travel and recreation.

Search for local bicycle stores and bicycle repair shops through Real Local Pages (RLP), an online directory of businesses. Visit the website,, and enter your zip code or city. Using the search box, enter keywords related to the business you seek, for example, “bicycle” “bike” or “bike repair.” You can also choose options from the popular categories list on the main page. The results page shows the contact information and address of each business for your convenience. Users can find a wide range of businesses on the RLP website, from bike repair shops to clothing stores and restaurants.

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