Throwback Thursday | Then Came Motorized Bicycles

PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | SouthPasadenan.com News | South Pasadena resident Carl Marsh for a photo with his Indian motorcycle (1911)

During the late 1800s, bicycles were all the rage. That changed seemingly overnight with the advent of the gasoline-powered motor.

PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | SouthPasadenan.com News | Pasadena Museum of History | Hundreds of bicycle enthusiasts parade on Colorado Street

Over 100 Pasadena residents rode their bicycles down Colorado Street to demonstrate for more cycle-friendly streets and paths. In 1900, Phase I of the elevated wooden California Cycleway was completed between the Castle Green Hotel in Pasadena to South Pasadena’s Raymond Hotel.

PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | SouthPasadenan.com News | Pasadena Museum of History | California Cycleway station near the Castle Green hotel (1901)
PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | SouthPasadenan.com News | Pasadena Museum of History | California Cycleway leaving the Pasadena station (1901)
PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | SouthPasadenan.com News | Pasadena Museum of History | California Cycleway bends toward South Pasadena (1901)

Then came the gasoline engine, and soon after that, Southern California was awash in oil fields and refineries – necessary for producing low-cost fuel for combustion engines.

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Gasoline engines were attached to bicycles. The motorized bicycles, not surprisingly, were known as motorcycles.

PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | SouthPasadenan.com News | Pasadena Museum of History | Pasadena Motorcycle Club Rally – club members meet at Raymond Avenue and Green Street, Pasadena (1911)

On April 28, 1911, the Pasadena Motorcycle Club gathered on Colorado Street to ride through small towns, rolling hills, and orange groves to Ventura and back. The distance traveled was 163 miles and took 8 hours and 5 minutes to accomplish.

Note: The builders of the California Cycleway scrapped their plans to extend the bicycle route from Raymond Hill in South Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles. The same route became the Arroyo Seco Parkway thirty years later.

Throwback Thursday is written and produced by Rick Thomas

 

 

Author Rick Thomas is the former museum curator and vice-chair of education for the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation. He served on the South Pasadena Natural Resources Commission, helping to maintain a strict policy protecting the city’s great old-growth trees. Using touchstone photographs from his own collection—one of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest accumulations of historical images and artifacts—as well as national, state, and local historical archives, Thomas provides a window to his city’s past and an understanding of why its preservation is so important.