The History of Bicycling in Idaho

Photos from the Idaho State Historical Society Library and Archives illustrate the growing popularity of bicycles in Idaho around the turn of the century.

[Image:historical photo of a man on bicycle in a parade]

At first, bikes were considered either as oddities to be seen in parades,

[Image:historical photo of a man and a woman posing for a studio portrait with their bicycles]

or status symbols worthy of a formal portrait.

[Image: Coeurdalene Bicycle Club posing with their bicycles in a wooded area]

As bike styles lowered, and safety brakes were introduced, more and more people purchased them, and a veritable bike craze began. Clubs formed around the state, not only to enjoy riding into the countryside, but also to advocate for better road surfaces.

[Image: Telegraph deliverer on his bicycle and Chinese vegetable merchant posing with his bicycle]

Workers, such this Chinese vegetable merchant, and this telegraph operator, used bikes for commerce.

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A regiment in Coeur d'Alene tried them out as transportation for their soldiers.

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And there's even evidence of bikes in the backcountry, as we see from this photo of a pioneer man with his bike in the mining town of Bonanza.

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For women, bikes meant increased freedom. Not only could they get into town or around the countryside more easily, but their clothing styles also became less restrictive, so that they could bicycle. Indeed, the suffragette Susan B. Anthony said that the bicycle did more to liberate women than anything else.

All photos courtesy of Idaho Historical Society Library and Archives

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