Bicycles (1878)


We do not suppose that Ryde, with its very hilly streets, will ever become so thronged with bicycles as other places seem to be. We have, however, a number of young fellows who like an occasional mount on the “iron horse,” and in spite of the hills have managed to traverse most parts of the Island – the eastern portion being the most difficult to get over; the road to St Helen’s especially daunting all but the most enthusiastic. Still we have seen nothing of the rage for bicycles and tricycles which is said to exist at Brighton and other places which can boast of level drives. There, ladies have taken to them doctors take visits on them and tradesmen circulate their goods on them. Lady Granville may even be seen working one of these fascinating machines. A great novelty at Brighton is the “safety bicycle,” which has been invented by Mr Samson. The grand feature of this is that the rider sits over the small wheel and has the big driving wheel at his back. The feet are thus always within easy reach of the ground and the machine is said to be quite equal in speed to the ordinary bicycle. It is said that one can use this machine in the most crowded thoroughfares, so perfect is the command over it. But a still greater novelty which has startled the people of Brighton is a bicycle of colossal dimensions. The driving wheel of this machine is 8ft high, so that the rider’s head is some 12ft from the ground. A man of ordinary size is enabled to ride this machine by means of a secondary treadle, placed above the usual crank and connected by a rod, the action or stroke being what is called reciprocatory. The speed obtained is tremendous. It is evident therefore that the people in these parts are quite behind the age as far as bicycles are concerned, but perhaps when we have our Esplanade extended  to Sea View and another Esplanade constructed as far as Cowes, we too, shall have an opportunity of seeing ladies of title guiding their swift machines along our level drive. Let us hope so.

Isle of Wight Observer, October 19, 1878; pg. 5

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