The Great San Francisco Bicycle Protest of 1896

For anyone who has ridden in or heard of the Critical Mass bike rides, read this. Though I participated in CM early on and thought we were pretty cool, I found out later that ours was not the first time bicycle activists have taken over the streets of San Francisco.

Check out this magazine; processed world
My article is number 15, in pdf format

From The San Francisco Chronicle; 1.3.2000

How revolutionary is Critical Mass?

Hank Chapot forwards a copy of the front page of the San Francisco Call, July 26, 1896, describing a parade of 5000 bicycle riders intent on lobbying the city to repave Market Street, thereby creating a thoroughfare on which they could cycle. A hundred thousand spectators watched the Folsom Street Parade;

"The turnout last night was, as it were, a test of the political strength of the wheelmen, and it showed how great that strength really is. It is said that the wheelmen vote will amount to something like 30,000, and, with such a balance of power, they are quite likely to effect a change in the policy that has long prevailed in street improvements....leaving the principle thoroughfares of the city in a condition of comparative impassibility"

"The wisdom shown by the wheelmen in cooperating thus to secure the one desired improvement seems very likely to be rewarded with success. The very fact that they stand together as a body instead of being divided by each one working some local improvement affecting his neighborhood proves that their prominence as a public factor will be considerable."

Monday, January 3, 2000 ©1999 San Francisco Chronicle


ClaraM said...

Hey Hank,

My name is Clara Mathews, and I'm a student at Cal, writing my thesis on Bicycles in San Francisco in the 1890's. I came across your article online, which I very much enjoyed, and I was wondering where you got your sources. I'd love to be able to look at and paperwork pertaining to bikes I can find.


Hank Chapot said...

Hi Clara,
I found it in the old newspapers on microfilm. Here is a Flickr set of some of my research. I may have a folder of copies with more but this might be a start for you. I don't know if you can download flickr images but I have it on a public setting. Good luck.


Hank Chapot said...

p.s. email me. hchapot@igc.org