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Bietigheimer Zeitung 2017/03/21
Reading time 2:10 minutes

History on wheels

200 years ago the Mannheim citizen Karl Drais had a brilliant idea - his “running machine” became pioneer of today’s bicycle. Pedals were added at an early stage; the rider was no longer forced to walk while standing on the wooden seat. The treadle bicycle originating from 1870 (...) in Ludwigsburg’s exhibition “200 years of bicycles” at the State Archives Ludwigsburg gives proof for that.

A treadle bicycle originating from 1870. It was not until the second half of the 19th century that the bicycle started to spread on a large scale. In Ludwigsburg the first clubs were founded around 1900.

This tiny but worth seeing show not only lives from turning the big historical wheel and from giving a rough overview over major developments. The show also promotes the earliest traces of the bicycle in the region.

Beginning and end

All begins with Drais’ running machine originating from 1817. A replica is shown at the State Archives Ludwigsburg, the same applies to Drais’ original patent specification. The provisional end of the development represents the electric bike. One model is displayed as well as a one hundred year old military bicycle and among other things a recumbent bike as well as numerous individual parts, such as the precursors of current dynamo models. What you see is actually nothing less than an important section of mobility history – namely history on wheels.
According to the Ludwigsburg entrepreneur and bicycle engineer Dirk Zedler, this car-focussed region is underdeveloped in terms of bicycle. What he means is that the bicycle use in this region is poorly developed compared to other regions worldwide (which is allegedly to be attributed to the hilly terrain). But Zedler also means the poorly developed local bicycle industry. Zedler is one of the entrepreneurs who support the exhibition, in his case with several objects from his own collection.

Carl Benz loved riding bicycle

Possibly a consolation for Zedler: The inventor of the automobile, also from Mannheim, was very fond of the bicycle. Carl Benz was an enthusiastic cyclist, says Jörg Gerste, project manager at Ludwigsburg’s Oscar-Walcker-Schule and teacher of the pupils who prepared the exhibition at the States Archives Ludwigsburg. How close the connection is between automobile and bicycle is underlined by several objects in the show.
In the field regional history several photos and other documents substantiate the first Ludwigsburg cycle clubs at the end of the 19th century. Such kind of clubs were a civil issue first and only then the bicycle turned into a means of transport for poor people. The fact that the early cycle clubs offered liability coverage in addition to the membership is also due to the fact that there was hardly any bicycle with reliable brakes until the year 1900.

Author: Martin Tröster
Photo: Martin Kalb

Read the entire article here.

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