The Bicycle Arrives
Treadmill on Wheels
Europeans had been developing variations of the modern-day bicycle since the 18th century. By the 1860s, a commercially successful and fully operational bicycle was taking over Europe.
Ballarat’s press closely followed the growing bicycle movement, reporting on the latest local and overseas developments.
There was much interest in Ballarat by the time the two-wheeled phenomenon reached town. One of the first bicycle sightings was in 1869 when a group of cyclists rode their velocipedes to Buninyong. One reporter called the new vehicle ‘a sort of treadmill on wheels’.
Bicycles soon became a fixture of Ballarat’s social and cultural life. Velocipede races were held at local sporting carnivals, festivals and agricultural shows. They were also given away as prizes at local fundraising events and fetes. Ballarat cyclists, such as foundry worker James Ivey, established themselves as regular winners of velocipede events held in Ballarat and Melbourne.
Not everyone welcomed the new addition to Ballarat’s roads. Reports of collisions between cyclists and horses were used by media commentators to highlight the dangers of two-wheeled vehicles.