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1890::Bicycles vs Public Vehicles in Early British Columbia

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

Transportation revolutionized in early British Columbia.

1892::The Safety Bicycle

"The Safety Bicycle"

Clip: The Victoria Daily Times (1892) Victoria, British Columbia

Although it is unclear exactly when bicycles were introduced to the world, they didn't really begin to boom until the mid-1800s. A small collection of odd makes and models began to appear on the streets of Victoria and Vancouver as early as the 1870s and caused a great disturbance with their speed and out-of-control recklessness, spooking horses and colliding with coaches and pedestrians as they made their way around the city. They were considered a menace and unsafe. In 1876, however, the world of transportation was revolutionized with the invention of the 'Safety Bicycle' (bicycles as we know them today). Its sleek design required less skill to ride and more importantly, less money to purchase. This opened the floodgate to buyers around the world. In the 1880s, when bicycles began to fill the streets of Victoria, it made sense to form a club.

1889::A new bicycle club for Victoria, British Columbia

"A New Club"

Clip: The Daily Colonist (1889) Victoria, British Columbia

On March 23, 1889, enthusiasts gathered at the top of Beacon Hill Park. In the pouring rain, they formed the city's first bicycle club and named themselves 'The Wanderers.' They quickly ordered their first riding outfits of navy blue with military caps, Norfolk jackets and knickerbockers with blue stockings and low shoes. They were a team!

It would be another year before Vancouver, New Westminster and Nanaimo had bicycle clubs of their own, which caused The Wanderers of Victoria to be first to sort through the immediate issues facing the BC wheelmen of the day.

1890::Bicycles vs Public Vehicles in Early British Columbia

"Right of Way"

Clips: The Victoria Daily Times (1890) Victoria, British Columbia

Because streetcars were still a year away from development, public vehicles referred to in this article were likely horse carriages for hire called hacks. It is unclear as to which side of the road the bicycles were confined to.

1879::Rules of the Road Apply to Bicyclists

"Rules of the Road Apply"

Clip: Daily Colonist (1879)

Victoria, British Columbia

Interestingly, bicyclists were at one time subjected to the same rules of the road as any other vehicle. Victoria, for reasons unclear, was cautious about following England's lead in this regard, but news of fines being issued to the city's earliest cyclists appeared in local newspapers regularly.

By the turn of the century, it was estimated that over a thousand Victorians owned and rode bicycles throughout the city's streets.

1896::Bicyclists Insurance

"Bicyclists Insurance"

Clip: Vancouver Daily World (1896)

Vancouver, British Columbia

Just years after the big cities of the Pacific Northwest formed their own bicycle clubs and adopted the 'Good Roads' movement for the betterment of everyone, insurance was introduced for their concerns. In just two short years after this advertisement, British Columbia's first automobiles began to appear on city streets.

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