Pierre Lallement (October 25, 1843 - August 29, 1891) is considered by some to be the inventor of the bicycle. In 1862 while Lallement was employed building baby carriages in Nancy he saw someone riding a dandy horse(The dandy horse is a human-powered vehicle that, being the first means of transport to make use of the two-wheeler principle, is regarded as the forerunner of the bicycle. The dandy horse was invented by Baron Karl Drais in Mannheim, Germany and patented in January 1818), a forerunner of the bicycle that required the rider to propel the vehicle by walking. Lallement modified what he had seen by adding a transmission comprising a rotary crank mechanism and pedals attached to the front-wheel hub, thus creating the first true bicycle.
He moved to Paris in 1863 and apparently interacted with the Olivier brothers who saw commercial potential in his invention. The Oliviers formed a partnership with Pierre Michaux to mass-produce a 2-wheeled velocipede. Whether these bicycles used Lallement's design of 1864 or another by Ernest Michaux is a matter of dispute. Lallement left France in July 1865 for the United States, settling in Ansonia, Connecticut, where he built and demonstrated an improved version of his bicycle. With James Carroll of New Haven as his financer, he filed the earliest and only American patent application for the pedal-bicycle in April 1866, and the patent was awarded on November 20, 1866.
His patent drawing shows a machine bearing a great resemblance to the style of dandy-horse built by Denis Johnson of London, with its serpentine frame, the only differences being, first, the addition of the pedals and cranks, and, second, a thin strip of iron above the frame acting as a spring upon which he mounted the saddleto provide a more comfortable ride.
Failing to interest an American manufacturer in producing his machine, Lallement returned to Paris in 1868, just as the Michaux bicycles were creating the first bicycle craze in France, an enthusiasm which spread to the rest of Europe and to America. Lallement returned to America again sometime before 1880, when he testified in a patent infringement suit on behalf of plaintiff Albert Pope, to whom he had sold the rights in his patent. At the time Lallement was living in Brooklyn and working for the Pope Manufacturing Company. He died in obscurity in 1891 in Boston at the age of 47.
David V. Herlihy presented evidence at the fourth International Cycling History Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, Oct. 11-16, 1993, that Lallement deserves credit for putting pedals on the dandy horse. In 1998, a monument to Lallement was unveiled in New Haven as part of the city's International Festival of Arts & Ideas on New Haven Green at 990 Chapel Street. Lallement was inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in 2005.
Vehicles for human transport that have two wheels and require balancing by the rider date back to the early 19th century. The first means of transport making use of two wheels arranged consecutively, and thus the archetype of the bicycle, was the German draisine dating back to 1817. The term bicycle was coined in France in the 1860s.
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