If only the Experts Could See Us Now? (1869)

Velocipedes are settling down into what the Yankees call an institution. The Post Office has given an order for a lot of them for the use of the rural postmen, and I saw a suggestion in a religious paper the other day that country curates might find them useful. In London at present you risk a fine of £5 and costs by appearing in the streets with one, to say nothing at all of breaking your own neck or knocking down a bishop; but in Liverpool troops of clerks ride into business at ten, fifteen, or twenty miles an hour. The medical men, however, are setting their faces against them. They are doubtful as to the effects of the exercise upon health, and evidently incline to the opinion that excessive riding is injurious and especially when the exertion required for a high rate of speed is put forth. It is said from excessive or too suddenly exerted speed rupture is likely to result. All opinions seem to agree that the exercise is not equally beneficial with walking, or even running. On the other hand, a scientific paper of great merit has brought forth elaborate proof that with the same expenditure of force required for walking a much greater rate of speed than be accomplished on foot cannot be attained, and that higher rates of speed require extraordinary exertion, such as in the case of all but trained athletes cannot be prolonged. People, of course, must judge for themselves; but I have heard of more than one velocipede excursion party being formed for the summer to make an excursion through the shires.

Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post or Plymouth and Cornish Advertiser, May 19, 1869

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