Bicycles — or an earlier version of what we now know as a bicycle — had a place on our streets before cars were a thing.
by Herbert C. Hallas
Statewide interest in bicycling exploded in New York State 148 years ago when newspapers began to warn readers about an impending “fearful outbreak” of “velocipede mania.” According to the January 10, 1869 issue of the New York Times, the first sight of a velocipede created “wonder and amazement among all classes” which made them “anxious to mount the fiery steed.”
The new vehicles became known as bicycles or velocipedes by enthusiasts, and boneshakers by detractors. They were heavy, weighing about 60 pounds, and difficult to mount. To brake a velocipede, a rider had to back peddle and pull a cord near the handlebars which activated a spoon brake on the back wheel.