Bicycle In The Park
Debra and Dave Vanderlaan
Photograph - Photography
An old bicycle leans against a tree in the park early in the day, waiting to be taken down the road for a spin!.....
Cycling steadily became more important in Europe over the first half of the twentieth century, but it dropped off dramatically in the United States between 1900 and 1910. Automobiles became the preferred means of transportation. Over the 1920s, bicycles gradually became considered children's toys, and by 1940 most bicycles in the United States were made for children. In Europe cycling remained an adult activity, and bicycle racing, commuting, and "cyclotouring" were all popular activities. In addition, specialist bicycles for children appeared before 1916.
Bicycles continued to evolve to suit the varied needs of riders. The derailleur developed in France between 1900 and 1910 among cyclotourists, and was improved over time. Only in the 1930s did European racing organizations allow racers to use gearing; until then they were forced to use a two-speed bicycle. The rear wheel had a sprocket on either side of the hub. To change gears, the rider had to stop, remove the wheel, flip it around, and remount the wheel. When racers were allowed to use derailleurs, racing times immediately dropped.
At mid-century there were two predominant bicycle styles for recreational cyclists in North America. Heavyweight cruiser bicycles, preferred by the typical (hobby) cyclist, featuring balloon tires, pedal-driven "coaster" brakes and only one gear, were popular for their durability, comfort, streamlined appearance, and a significant array of accessories (lights, bells, springer forks, speedometers, etc..). Lighter cycles, with hand brakes, narrower tires, and a three-speed hub gearing system, often imported from England, first became popular in the United States in the late 1950s.
December 3rd, 2012
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