Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wartime Wednesday: A Bicycle Built for Two (or not!)

Wartime Wednesday: A Bicycle Built for Two (or not!)

Anyone who has read about WWII knows that rationing played a major role. One of the many challenges associated with rationing was that the alternatives were also rationed or found in limited supply.

Civilian car production ceased, and gasoline was rationed based on an individual’s needs. “A” was the most common and issued to the general public. It was worth four gallons per week. “B” was given to business owners and worth eight gallons per week. “C” was for professionals such as doctors, nurses, ministers, farm workers, etc. “M” was for motorcycles and “T” was for truckers. “X” was for individuals who held high mileage jobs such as traveling salesmen, however, many rich people and politicians also received X stickers.

Walking was one alternative to driving, but was not realistic if the individual had far to go.

Enter the bicycle.

Many people already owned bicycles and took to them in droves. However, many more people had to purchase bicycles, and it was difficult to find them as the government had put a freeze on bicycle sales and allocated over 10,000 bikes to war production plants. The remaining bikes available were rationed by the OPA and an adult who was gainfully employed or contributed in some way to the war effort or public warfare had to cite a compelling reason (such as inadequate public transportation or responsibility for delivery service) in order to purchase one.

New bikes under production had to adhere to the manufacturing requirements imposed by OPM – weighing no more than thirty-one pounds and made of steel only (no copper or nickel parts). Chrome plating was limited and most of the accessories such as chain guards, bells, and luggage racks were eliminated. Tire size was also reduced and whitewalls were abolished.

And in keeping with the times, they were called Victory bikes.

Do you still ride a bike?

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