The nineteenth century only added a little wheel. (1881)

The Select Committee who have to deal with the point in dispute between the railway interest and the bicycle interest find themselves overwhelmed with statistics. It seemed quite incredible that there should have been so many riders in the world as there seem to be in the United Kingdom. A new industry has suddenly arisen and also a new nuisance. That there should be 10,000 riders in London might well puzzle the committee, who find an important section of the public face to face with a real grievance. It is clear, too, that, to use a stock expression, the invention is only in its infancy and it is not at all likely to be choked off suddenly. It is true, some little time ago two or three women were seen in Cheapside on tricycles. But apparently they soon desisted. If, indeed, women have taken the question up, it might have become fashionable and if it had become fashionable it would soon have certainly collapsed. We should have had a rage like the fury for skating on asphalte, and then a sudden and permanent drop. And yet, if I do not mistake, the earliest idea of a bicycle presented a woman as a rider. The invention is not so new and the nineteenth century takes to itself a credit which it does not deserve. I have seen the engravings of a design for “Fortune,” by Michael Angelo. It is not a rare engraving. Fortune is a woman and she is riding a unicycle. The great Florentine started the idea. The nineteenth century only added a little wheel.

The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, November 01, 1881; p 6

 

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