This is the 100th post on this blog, so I decided to use the occasion to write about the thing that makes traveling around and exploring D.C. possible for me – the bicycle. It’s also a good topic because it is the anniversary of the introduction of the bicycle to the United States, which were seen for the first time during this week in 1819 on the streets of New York City.
Alternately called “velocipedes,” “swift walkers,” “hobby horses” or my favorite, “dandy horses” for the “dandies” that most often rode them, they had been imported from London earlier that same year. Shortly thereafter, in August, the city’s Common Council passed a law to “prevent the use of bikes in the public places and on the sidewalks of the city of New York.”
Riding a bike on the sidewalk is still against the law in many major cities, including some parts of D.C. But both bikes and how cities now accommodate and even encourage their usage have changed a lot over the last 195 years. During this ride I saw many other bikes and riders. I also saw and used specially-built dedicated bike lanes, paths and trails. And there was signage specifically for bike riders, and designated parking and storage space for bikes. The city of D.C. also has a robust bike share program, through which bikes can be rented. I also rode past Nationals Park, where they even have valet parking for bikes.
My bike rides in D.C. over the past few years would have been a lot different if all these changes had not taken place. I probably wouldn’t have discovered or gone to many of the places I’ve seen during my rides. And without visiting those different places this blog would not exist. So with today’s blog post I celebrate the introduction of the dandy horse in this country, which made this blog possible.