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  Chapter Thirteen:
 
TRANSPORTATION
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  Passengers
  Freight
  Traffic
  Traffic Deaths
  Bicycles

  

 

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TRANSPORTATION

Bicycles

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Bicycles, like horses and sailboats, did not disappear when they were superseded by motorized transportation.
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As the chart shows, the annual production of bicycles declined after 1900 with the advent of the automobile, along with the construction of subways and elevated railroads in large cities and interurban streetcar lines in smaller cities. But the Depression of the 1930s forced many commuters back to bicycles, and gasoline rationing during World War II had the same effect. 

In the prosperous 1950s, the bicycle ceased to be an important means of commuting to work but became a primary mode of transportation to school and places of recreation for many high school and college students. The annual production of bicycles more than doubled in the six years between 1954 and 1960, and then doubled again in the following decade. This upward trend persisted as students continued to depend on bicycles, and great numbers of adults took up bicycle riding for exercise and pleasure. In 1990, almost 11 million bicycles were added to an existing stock that probably exceeded 50 million. 

Other archaic modes of transportation—horses, boats, and even balloons—that no longer had much practical utility, continued to thrive as well. At the end of the century, families kept more than 4 million horses for riding, driving, or companionship. Although the age of sail came to an end around 1920, Americans still used the force of the wind to propel innumerable watercraft, from windsurfers to ocean cruisers, on ponds, lakes, rivers, bays, estuaries, and the open ocean. The Wright brothers’ invention of the airplane eclipsed hot-air balloon technology, but people continued to enjoy aerial sightseeing from the balloons.


Chapter 13 chart 5

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

HS series P 298; SA 1976, table 406; and SA 1992, table 395. See also CB, “Motorcycle, Bicycle, and Parts: Manufacturing,” Economic Census 1997, at www.census.gov/prod/www/abs/a7ecmani.html (accessed September 18, 2000).

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