A SOCIAL HISTORY OF THE BICYCLE by Robert A. Smith

A SOCIAL HISTORY OF THE BICYCLE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A joyride through the 1890's when cyclomania swept the country. Professor Smith who teaches at California State College examines the impact of the birotate chariot on the manners and mores of the public in this freewheeling excursion into American social history. Beginning with the ""cycle barons"" -- Albert Spaulding and Colonel A.A. Pope who made a million -- bicycle fever infected everyone. Preachers thundered against the ""diabolical devices of the demons of darkness""; doctors warned against damage to the nervous system; Temperance leaders favored it as ""by its very inherent nature, a teetotaller""; women hailed it as a shortcut to emancipation. Tin Pan Alley produced ""Mamie, My Bicycle Girl"" and clothing manufacturers produced bloomers and other ""bifurcated garments"" for the fashionable lady cyclist. Smith covers a lot of ground with very little effort from the first pneumatic tire to Diamond Jim Brady who bestowed a cycle with mother-of-pearl handlebars and wheel spokes encrusted with chip diamonds, rubies and sapphires on Lillian Russell. Alderson's Bicycling (p. 753) concentrated on British terrain so this should have more appeal for American peddlers.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1972
Publisher: McGraw-Hill -- American Heritage Press