Listening Script Vocabulary
(Section 4: You will hear a talk on the topic of a particular transportation method. First, you will have some time to look at questions 31 to 40 [20 seconds]. Listen carefully and answer questions 31 to 40.)
Good morning, all. Thanks for getting here on time. Now, we’ve been talking about transportation methods and today’s session is about the humble bicycle. You may be surprised to hear that the origins of the bicycle are quite mysterious. What I mean by that, it that it is not possible to say who invented it. Still, what is clear is that the early ancestors of the modern bicycle were in use in Europe by the early 1800s.
In 1817, Charles, Baron von Drais, of Sauerbrun in Germany, invented a front wheel capable of being steered from left to right. He also made a padded saddle that was comfortable for riders to sit on, and an armrest at the front of the bike. He took his invention to Paris in 1818, where it was patented and the name ‘vélocipède’ meaning ‘bicycle’ was first used.
The velocipede quickly became popular in France, and almost immediately was introduced to England where the first bicycle-riding academy was established in London in 1819. Very soon many riders were seen on the streets of London. But the pastime declined almost as rapidly as it had risen, and after the early 1820s, velocipedes were rarely seen in England.
However, Americans began to show great enthusiasm for the velocipede. By early 1829, many cycles were being built. Numerous riding schools were established in eastern cities, and the sport of riding became suddenly popular, especially among the students of Harvard and Yale Universities. But the craze ended as suddenly as it began. By the end of May in 1869 the sport was dying. The reasons for the decline were that the cycles were heavy and cumbersome. There was no cushioning and the rider had to steer and pedal the same front wheel. Riding a velocipede took a great deal of strength and coordination. Cities also began to pass rules against riding on pedestrian sidewalks or pavements.
In 1863, in Paris, an important development to the velocipede was the addition of pedals. This happened in the workshop of Pierre Michaux, but to this day is cannot certainly be said whether he or his employee Pierre Lallement is entitled to the credit. Lallement moved to the USA, and in 1866 and popularised the velocipede there. In 1868, the Hanlon brothers of New York, improved Lallement's vehicle.
But by this time, the early 1870s, bicycles were common again in England. James Starley of Coventry introduced the Ariel in 1871, a high-wheeled bicycle with wire spokes that was copied for two decades. This type of cycle, with modifications, gained popularity and later became known as an “Ordinary” in the 1890s.
Americans again became interested in bicycles, and began importing machines from England. Albert A. Pope became the first American bicycle manufacturer. In 1878 he began manufacturing bicycles under the trade name “Columbia” in Connecticut.
The Ordinary, or high-wheel bicycle, was lightweight and fast. But it was also dangerous, since the rider's centre of gravity was only slightly behind the large front wheel and the rider was in danger of flying over the handlebars. Because of this, efforts were made to design a safer bicycle. These safer bicycles had two small wheels of equal size, a chain, and gears. Soon after, John Dunlop patented an air-filled tyre. Others worked on improving brakes. The number of bicycles in use rose as production increased from an estimated 200,000 bicycles in 1889 to 1,000,000 in 1899.