AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractBicycle history and historiography is currently undergoing significant reassessment. Historical studies on bicycles and bicycle mobility have been dominated by the legacy of chronologically organised accounts of the bicycle as artefact. While valuable, this approach has had a tendency to elide significant differences between specific histories of the place of the bicycle as a component of broader mobility systems in varying geographical locations. New areas of social and cultural history are combining with colonial and post-colonial analyses to understand both the Eurocentric nature of dominant accounts and the hidden possibilities of multiple and plural narratives. Moving away from an artefactual bicycle history, this study embraces recent developments in the study of technology and draws on use-pattern approaches to the study of bicycle technology. Shifting focus to a use-centred account and comparing experiences across geographical and other boundaries reveals substantial differences in patterns and timescales of user experiences of cycles and cycling beyond its function as mass mobility. The chapter therefore explores bicycle historiography and historiology, examining in particular the implications of oversimplified periodization and schematic linear histories of bicycle development. Subjecting these narratives to critical scrutiny, the chapter considers how they serve both to continue to render the bicycle invisible, even within dramatically changing mobility scenarios, and to limit understanding of the potential of bicycles and other human-powered and hybrid human-motor vehicles to sustainable mobility futures.
CitationCox, P. (2017). Rethinking bicycle histories. In Tiina Männistö-Funk & Timo Myllyntaus (Eds.), The Invisible bicycle: New insights into bicycle history. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill
CollectionsSocial and Political Science
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