This article originally appeared on AndresManuelOlivaresMiranda.net on Sep. 1, 2017.
The history of bicycles has always sparked debates and rumors. Some will even agree that no one knows the true origin of bicycles. Who invented them? How did they create one? Were they even meant to be bicycles or were they discovered by mistake like some of the greatest inventions known?
The bicycle was first invented in Germany. Charles, Baron Von Drais made his own device in 1817 with a wheel in the front that could be turned in different directions. He attached a padding to it where he could put his weight and upgraded the device with a part for his arms to rest. He could push with his legs and coast like a skateboard. According to the MIT Press, The National Museum of American History and other reputable sources that is the first bicycle to exist. At that time the bicycle was known as a “Draisienne” when patented in 1818.
Putting your foot down
It wasn’t until 1863 that pedals were introduced to Draisienne. Before that, it was called a “velocipede.” Because it had been patented again since 1818. The pedals were first incorporated in a factory in France. Some say Pierre Lallement was the first to do it. However, others say it was the factory owner Pierre Michaux. Some say Pierre stole his boss’s plans. It is also said that Michaux took advantage of his employee and exploited the opportunity. The true pedal pioneer has not been clarified to this day.
What most think is the first bicycle was patented by James Starley between 1870-1871. It was known as an “Ariel.” The wheel was made larger to cover more distance each rotation. This also meant a lot less pedaling to go the same amount of speed. James Starley would make bicycles more common to the average person and not just the rich. As different contributors added parts like rubber tires, better brakes, and the bicycle’s center of gravity was improved it was more accepted. Bikes have always been a more environmentally conscious, healthy and inexpensive way to travel.
What’s next? We will have to wait and see. For all we know an electric bike may be introduced to the world and the pedal will be taken away from the design once more. However it turns out, bicycles have been around for a long time and may be here for the long ride.