Bicycles have been recognizable fixtures on streets and sidewalks since their invention during the late 19th century. People often overlook the significant changes this introduction brought to society because of the lasting influence of automobiles in the subsequent decades. Nevertheless, the evolution of the staple two-wheeler changed the course of American life for the better. Here’s a look into a revolution: how bicycles changed society and continue to transform the world.
Freedom: A New Level of Social Diversity
Out of all the critical areas of society affected by the mere existence of the bicycle, a revolution of gender equality trumps the list. Due to cultural perceptions, the first bike on the market was meant for men alone—until innovations for a safer bicycle provided riders with greater speed and a lower chance of peril. The rising bicycle craze became integral to human evolution and breaking gender barriers. The bicycle fad wasn’t supposed to last—but women played a vital role in changing the game.
Bicycles provided women with accessibility to freedom and self-reliance—the ability to take on the road unchaperoned without fear of harm. This increased independence amplified the growing feminist movement and the gender equality of both work and pleasure. Not to mention, bicycles changed society through the emergence of bloomers in fashion and the appropriateness of feminine pants. Cycling certainly broadened the discussion about the changing roles in society in a swiftly transitionary world.
Reconnaissance and Communication: War and Culture
Bicycles once again proved themselves revolutionary devices during the World Wars, ushering in a new era of transformations and potentialities. Bicycles may have never replaced the role of horses within the military, but they offered prime advantages relative to maneuverability, speed, and, of course, stealth. In A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway wrote about the terror of seeing a foreign soldier ride by on a bicycle during WWI. Battalions, scouts, and couriers all utilized bicycles in some shape or form to change the fabric of the war front. Bicycles became symbols of escape, protection, and safe passage.
Transportation: Alternative Answers for a Desirable Future
The popularity of bicycles has fluctuated over the years, but their revolutionary means as forward-thinking machines haven’t changed for over a century. Even looking back on the fascinating history of electric bikes showcases the importance of accessible personal mobility for everyone, everywhere. Cities and small towns alike benefit from cycling when it brings joy and functionality to everyday life.
As sustainable and eco-friendly needs for transportation continue to grow in modern society, bicycles remain solutions for the future that humanity desires. Their revolutionary nature has come full circle to support movements, ideas, and possibilities to change societal life for the better.