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Monday, January 3, 2011

Mainstreaming Bicycles [via The American Conservative]

January 3, 2011 by William Lind

Filed under: Car Stop 
Contrary to what most people think, the revolution in personal mobility did not begin with the automobile.  It started about two decades before Henry Ford’s first Model T, and it was based on a combination of the electric railway and the safety bicycle.
Electric streetcars and interurbans brought affordable, fast and frequent rail service to and between cities  -  -  every American city or town with more than 5000 people had at least one streetcar line.  The interurbans also tied towns and the countryside to the cities.  The safety bicycle  -  -  a bicycle with equal-sized wheels that was easy to mount  -  -  was the first bicycle women and less athletic men could ride.  It provided greatly enhanced local mobility compared to walking.  Together, electric railways and safety bicycles offered the middle and working classes the level of mobility previously reserved to those wealthy enough to afford a carriage. 

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