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Bicycles and Velocipedes › Articles

Velocipedes or bicycles or tricycles . . . whatever the name, the bike has been the first rapid transit vehicle for children for generations. These are the photos of those bikes and their riders.

Bicycles are a part of most people's lives - either as a child, an adult, or both. It seems like they've been around forever but it wasn't until the early 1800's that the first bike was introduced to the public. Just a decade or two later, the first camera was invented so we're lucky enough to have plenty of photos of the development of the bicycle.

Consider these interesting - and fun! - facts about bikes:

  • The first "horseless carriage" wasn't a car - it was the bicycle. That's what Karl von Drais, a German baron, called the bike he invented to help him get around faster. Two-wheeled and pedal-less, it was propelled by pushing his feet against the ground.

  • The term “bicycle” wasn't used until the 1860s, when it was coined in France to describe a new kind of two-wheeler with a mechanical drive - yay, no longer having to push against the ground with your feet!

  • The Wright brothers, who built the first fixed-wing flying airplane, operated a bike repair shop in Dayton, Ohio. They used their workshop to build their airplane - the Wright Flyer

  • The longest tandem bike? It had 35 seats and was about 67 feet long!

  • It is estimated that there are 1 billion bicycles in the world, more than double the number of cars. It's also estimated that there are 50-100 million new bikes made every year.

A recent study says that people who ride bikes have a "unique blend of intelligent generosity" and possess the "cool" factor. Perhaps those who regularly ride bikes as adults are also thrifty - a bike costs 20x less to maintain than a car - and is earth-friendly. Certainly these vintage photos show that our ancestors were cool and "with-it"!