Celebration of cycling

23 July 2012: As Britons rejoice in Bradley Wiggins having won the Tour de France, our thoughts turn to bicycles and cycling in our library collections. The transport section of the Goldsmiths’ Library of Economic Literature focuses on railways, but also contains a work from 1869 on the velocipede. The book is recorded in few British academic libraries, with copies other than ours being recorded only in the national and legal deposit libraries, LSE and Warwick. It tells the reader ‘how to ride a velocipede, straddle a saddle then paddle and skedaddle’. In the preface the author predicts about bicycles: ‘It seems probable that the machine will become increasingly popular, and if constructed upon sound principles, and of good material, we see no reason why it should not deserve its popularity’. The work ends 103 pages later: ‘And now, in leaving the indulgent reader who has followed us thus far, we do not know that we can give him any better parting wish, than that when he has finished his course along the level roads, and up the steep hills of life, he may glide as smoothly down its incline, as when directing a descent on his own bicycle’.

Velocipede

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