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Friday, March 25, 2016

When Bicycles Reigned Supreme

The importance of the bicycle in transportation history is often overlooked.  For a twenty year period, before mass production of automobiles, the bicycle reigned supreme as the means of transportation.  In the 1890s, one-third of all patents and inventions were bicycle related.  The city of Minneapolis created an ordinance mandating a 10 mile an hour speed limit for bicycles.  More locally, in 1896 future Highway Commissioner Charles Babcock engineered a bicycle path between Elk River and Anoka.  According to reports in the Star News, he borrowed a road scrapper from the town supervisor and created a smooth path paralleling the gravel highway. Until 1915, bicycles served as important forms of transportation in Sherburne County.