Page:The Cycle Industry (1921).djvu/90

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CHAPTER XII

ROADS IN GREAT BRITAIN

As an inhabitant of the county of Warwickshire, I have always had an idea that the comparatively level roads of the districts surrounding Coventry and Birmingham had something to do with the early popularity of the bicycle.

It is inconceivable that had the heavy, hard running machines of the early days of the industry been exploited in Devon, for example, they would have attracted the attention of the mechanical minds that evolved the perfect bicycle we ride to-day.

The modern bicycle, had it been possible to put it on the road in its present form at one jump, would have been popular anywhere and at any time, but with the bone-shaker it was different.

Many years ago the surfaces of the Midland roads around Coventry and south of Birmingham were much better than they are now; the hills, except in the Edge Hill district, are not abnormally steep, and close to Coventry is the famous London road with a level stretch for six miles or more. It was on such highways that the high ordinaries were perfected and the safety bicycle tested and exploited. They were both tested and tried out in other places, but Coventry was the home of the bicycle, and without fairly level and good roads I am sure the early attempts would not have developed the enthusiasm of their makers to the same extent.

The use of the bicycle expanded from Coventry and the Midlands like a ripple on a pond spreads from the spot where a stone is thrown into the water. The

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