Around the World on a Bicycle

In 1884, the 29 year old Thomas Stevens set out from San Fransisco on the 'modern mechanical invention' of the Penny Farthing to circumnavigate the globe on his 'big wheel'. His book - "Around the World on a Bicycle" - was published in 1888 and his writings are presented here in blog form. Read more in the archive.

Viennese regulations

At Vienna I determine to make a halt of two days, and on Tuesday pay a visit to the headquarters of the Vienna Wanderers' Bicycle Club, away out on a suburban street called Schwimmschulenstrasse; and the club promises that if I will delay my departure another day they will get up a small party of wheelmen to escort me seventy kilometres, to Presburg. The bicycle clubs of Vienna have, at the Wanderers' headquarters, constructed an excellent race-track, three and one-third laps to the English mile, at an expense of 2,000 gulden, and this evening several of Austria's fliers are training upon it for the approaching races.

English and American wheelmen little understand the difficulties these Vienna cyclers have to contend with: all the city inside the Ringstrasse, and no less than fifty streets outside, are forbidden to the mounted cyclers, and they are required to ticket themselves with big, glaring letters, as also their lamps at night, so that, in case of violating any of these regulations, they can by their number be readily recognized by the police. Self-preservation compels the clubs to exercise every precaution against violating the police regulations, in order not to excite popular prejudice overwhelmingly against bicycles, and ere a new rider is permitted to venture outside their own grounds he is hauled up before a regularly organized committee, consisting of officers from each club in Vienna, and required to go through a regular examination in mounting, dismounting, and otherwise proving to their entire satisfaction his proficiency in managing and manoeuvring his wheel; besides which every cycler is provided with a pamphlet containing a list of the streets he may and may not frequent. In spite of all these harassing regulations, the Austrian capital has already two hundred riders.

The Viennese impress themselves upon me as being possessed of more than ordinary individuality. Yonder comes a man, walking languidly along, and carrying his hat in his hand, because it is warm, and just behind him comes a fellow-citizen muffled up in an overcoat because - because of Viennese individuality. The people seem to walk the streets with a swaying, happy-go-anyhow sort of gait, colliding with one another and jostling together on the sidewalk in the happiest manner imaginable.

Posted in stevens blog by Stuart on Wednesday 03rd Jun 1885 (19:00 +0200) | Add a comment | Permalink

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