De demarrage van de fiets in Groningen, hoe de fiets Groningen veroverde 1885-1935
Number of pages
SourceHistorisch Jaarboek Groningen, 17, (2017), pp. 84-103
Article / Letter to editor
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Economische, Sociale en Demografische Geschiedenis
Historisch Jaarboek Groningen
SubjectEurope in a Changing World; Radboud Group for Historical Demography and Family History
Using data from the magazine of the Dutch cycle association, tax registers on bikes, traffic counts, newspapers, and various smaller sources, this article explores the numbers behind bike users and usage in Groningen between 1885 and 1935. Giving an overview of the rapid developments, changing from upper-class toy to working-class hero. In the early days of the bike, around 1885, due to the price and shape of the bicycle, bike usage was merely seen amongst a small young elite. These young men united in cycle clubs, organizing races and tours in the countryside. Cycling could evidently be seen as a recreational pastime. From 1890 onwards the shape of the bike changed towards the one we know today, making it possible for women and elderly men of Groningen to start cycling. Towards the end of the 19th century, the focus shifted more towards touring instead of racing. The Dutch cycle association even managed to ban racing, preventing cycling to turn into a commercial sport. Hereby, the elite remained interested in the use of the bike. This resulted in preserving funding and a prominent place for bikes in politics. Around 1900, in Groningen 1 in every 27 persons possessed a bike, compared to the national average of 1 in 45. Besides, Groningen had the highest amount of bicycle stores per capita and also one of the nation’s biggest cycle factories ‘Fongers’. With regards to those numbers, Groningen can be called ‘the cycle province of the Netherlands’. After 1900, prices of bikes were falling steadily, making the bike affordable for a larger part of the population. People started riding their bikes to work, creating a new type of usage of the bicycle. These new users complemented the former users and usages rather than replacing them. Around 1930 the cyclists of Groningen used their bicycle to ride to work but also recreationally on Sundays.
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