This month, I’d like to highlight little known black history facts about blacks in biking.
Bob Marley’s song Buffalo Soldier isn’t just a good sing-along song with a wonderful bridge-Woe! Yoe! Yo! It is a tune that tells a story about the 25th
Infantry United States Army Bicycle Corps. The theory is the name was given to them by Native Americans since their hair felt like a buffalo’s pelt. The name was loved by the soldiers since they were familiar with the buffalo’s fighting spirit and bravery.
The soldiers were one of the many segregated units of the U.S. Army. They were testing if bicycles could be used instead horses in the military. Their biggest trial came when they rode 1900 miles from Ft. Missoula, Montana to St. Louis, Missouri. They averaged 56 miles a day and completed the journey in 34 days.
Vélocipede + Tricycle
In 1888, Mathew A. Cherry invented and got the patent for the vélocipede. The vélocipede was a metal seat with frame set on top of two or three wheels. This design was a huge improvement over early designs. The rider would move themselves along with their feet on the ground in a running or fast walking motion.
This design ultimately evolved into the tricycle and bicycle. In May 1888, Cherry got the patent for the tricycle. In the U.S., the tricycle is typically used by little children. However, in Africa and Asia, it’s used for transportation and commercial deliveries.
One of the things that makes biking a solid form of transportation is the ability to transport stuff. In 1899, Jerry Certain created the first bicycle parcel carriers, intended to carry items with a bike. Today, we call these parcel carriers panniers and they are crucial to many riders who use bicycles for travel and transportation.
These are just some facts about Black contributions to making bicycling accessible and better for all.