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Topics in Chronicling America - Bicycle Craze

The first popular models of the bicycle were high-wheeled, and known to be dangerous because of the frequency of “headers”, or flying over the handlebars. However, with the invention of the “Safety” and several other modifications, the bicycle became safer and more popular. The women’s safety, allowing for women’s dress, helped boost the bicycles popularity even more. By the 1890s, the safety bicycle could be used by everyone, regardless of age or gender, for both transportation and recreation. Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/). Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.


Picture of bicycles

Jump to: Sample Articles

Important Dates:

  • Late 1880s: The “Ordinary”, a previously popular model of the bicycle, is beat out by the “Safety”. Because of the position of the rider on the “Ordinary”, it is seen as more dangerous than the low to the ground position of the “Safety”.
  • 1890s: The popularity of the Safety, and the women’s version, lead to a bicycle fad that everyone can enjoy.
  • Late 1890s: As bicycles continued to be very popular, more laws and ordinances were put in place to protect the rider and pedestrians.

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Bicycles
  • It is important to use a specific date range if looking for articles for a particular event in order to narrow your results.

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  May 2, 2017
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