Sample Essay on Early Bicycles of the 20th Century

Early Bicycles of the 20th Century

Transportation and globalization have been closely related. Transportation ensured a faster globalization process by facilitating quicker and efficient movement of commodities, together with people, from one place to another. As a result, transportation has greatly contributed towards growth and maintenance of the cohesion of different economies from the time of ancient empires to modernity. However, the 20th century is renowned to be the era of great evolution, as far as invention of faster modes of transport is concerned. Consequently, people were able to move faster, safer, and over longer distances more efficiently. Among the modes of transport that characterized this century was cycling (Scranton 74).

Though bicycles had been manufactured in various parts of the world, Albert Pope manufactured the first one in the United States of America back in 1887. During this time, the American people hoped that the bicycle would be revolutionary and shape the future of land transport. It was a convenient mode of transport due to its flexibility and cost effective nature. Bicycles were also able to access remote areas that were not accessible by other modes. During this time, bicycles that were manufactured had characteristically large wheels at the front and smaller rear ones. Consequently, these bicycles were not only difficult to ride but also dangerous. Strangely enough, the wheels were made of wood for the cheap ones and iron for the expensive ones (Fiedler).

Apart from the dangers that were posed by the bicycles, cyclists also experienced animosity from the horses. The horses caused harm to the cyclists, through frequent attacks. Since these bicycles were extremely dangerous and risky, there was need for invention of safer ones. Therefore, Americans had the privilege of enjoying a new brand of bicycle by the name “safety” in the year 1887.  This bicycle had characteristic rubber tires, together with wheels of the same size. As a result, they were considered safer as compared to previous ones. Moreover, bells were also introduced to warn the pedestrians of the coming bicycle. These bells were attached on the handle bar by a piece of leather. However, other cyclists used whistles as a warning sign of the approaching bicycle to the pedestrians (Volti 680).

These modifications made bicycles to be embraced by many; they revolutionized the transport sector. In addition, people accepted it as one of the ways of recreation. In the early 20th century, bicycles were sharing the streets with both the horses and the stagecoaches. Not only did bicycles revolutionize the transport sector, they were also a blessing to the health sector since they influenced widespread exercise. As opposed to other forms of sport that were available by then, bicycle riding offered an opportunity for females to join their male counterparts in sporting cycling events. Therefore, bicycles provided a forum for bridging the society that was dominated by males to promote gender equality (Scranton 74).

During the 20th century, bicycles also boosted trade. Bicycle traders benefited from high demands for bicycles and made huge sales and profits out from it. One of the famous traders in America were the Wright brothers. At this time, bicycles were meant to use the same roads as other automobiles. The invention of bloomers during the 20th century encouraged the females to cycle, which made bicycles to be more popular even among the females as opposed to the time of long skirts and petticoats. As the mid-20th century loomed, United States of America and most of the European nations experienced road congestion that made it necessary to separate bicycles from other automobiles in the use of roads. Consequently, riding lanes were built next to the roads to accommodate them. This move improved the infrastructures not only in the America but also in Europe. Furthermore, riding costumes were also introduced to improve the safety (Fiedler).

By the mid of 20th century, bicycles had reached nearly the entire world and different types of bicycles had been manufactured. At this time, there was a specific bicycle for specific use, such as sporting events. These bicycles were lighter than the conventional ones and were made for greater speeds. In fact, by this time, most of the international sporting events had incorporated cycling as one of their sporting activities that brought the world’s citizens together. Therefore, bicycles contributed towards globalization during the 20th century by bringing people together with the aim of creating harmonious coexistence (Volti 681).

In conclusion, bicycles, as one of the commodities that shaped the 20th century, contributed to the wellbeing of various sectors and the realization of globalization in general. In the first place, it revolutionized the transport sector by offering a cheaper, safer, and more convenient mode of transport. Secondly, bicycles influenced the bridging of the gap between males and females during the 20th century, promoting gender equality. Thirdly, it boosted trade by becoming a commodity for trade. Fourthly, bicycles promoted sports that brought the world’s citizens together and fostered harmony in the century that was characterized by two major world wars. Lastly, the bicycle also enhanced good health, especially among the cyclists, by promoting physical fitness.


Works cited

Fiedler, David. “Technological Innovations in Bikes in the 20th Century.” Technological

Innovations in Bikes in the 20th Century. 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 1 Feb. 2015. <>.

Scranton, Philip. “A Rocky Road to Globalization: Late 20th Century American Machine Tool

Building.”Enterprises Histoire (2005): 74. Print.

Volti, Rudi. “Bicycle: The History (review).” Technology and Culture (2006): 680-681. Print.