Rosey’s Scorcher

The Scorcher

The Scorcher

I saw this poster for sheet music at the Wright Brothers bicycle shop in Dayton, OH and found a description of the music piece online. Here is a link to a recording of the music and the following is a good description of what the music is all about:

Tens of thousands of bicyclists clogged New York City streets at all hours during the 1890s. The Scorcher March and Two-Step was a popular dance piece written for piano by George Rosey (George. E. Rosenberg) and published at the peak of the bicycle craze in 1897. Fast riders were called “scorchers” for the way they seemed to blaze down the roads. Racers were called “cracks.” Impromptu sprint races between riders meeting on the street were called “drags.” This stylized cover girl is wearing the new “bloomers” which shocked many women who decried women’s cycling. Her bicycle’s frame was designed to accommodate a woman’s skirts.

In the Gay Nineties the bicycle was a vehicle of liberation. Although, still expensive to buy on a working class wage. Its cost was comparable to today’s used car prices. It was much cheaper than to own then a horse, the mainstay then of personal transportation. Owning a bicycle gave a woman a previously unknown freedom of movement and launched them on the path to greater empowerment. Could its revolutionary effect have helped to precipitate the suffragette movement, which in turn fostered today’s women’s rights movement?

While nowhere near the popularity of the 1890s, bicycling continues to enjoy wide popularity, both as a pastime and as a means of transportation. Recent US census data indicates that bike commuting is on the rise. Millennials driving less is in part fueling this trend, but the biggest percentage rise in bicycle commuting is among the richest demographics. The percentage of people earning $100K+ who cycle to work increased the most in this last census. While participation among the top 10% is still small compared to the bottom 10%, those too poor to own a car, their influence as trend setters should not be overlooked.

4 thoughts on “Rosey’s Scorcher

  1. Bicycles are, perhaps, the best transportation invention ever. Isn’t it almost miraculous how they convert an ordinary person using nothing but their own energy into being able to travel many times faster than they could achieve by running or walking? Perhaps we will all soon wake up to the fact that most of the journeys undertaken using fossil fuel – such as commuting – simply don’t need it.

  2. Popular!? More people ride bikes than drive motor vehicle, over a billion, one in seven worldwide, whereas only four hundred thousand drive busses, cars, and trucks. Apart from walking, it’s the most popular method of transporting self.

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