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Bicycles and Cycling History: A Resource Guide


The number of bicycles in production skyrocketed to over a million per year by 1899. Bicycles and their riders demanded their city governments for safer routes of transportation among the streetcars and horse-drawn buggies.This atlas of the Mid-Atlantic region from 1789 is one of the earliest surveys of American interstate roads.

The League of American Wheelmen was a coalition between representatives from the country's most prominent cycling clubs, established in 1880. They published a series of guides for members in the mid-1890's, such as Fifty Miles Around Brooklyn.. More guides can be found by searching "League of American Wheelmen" in the Library's catalog.

In local history, the Capital Bicycle Club provided maps of the city with marked routes and color coded streets to aid cyclists in a city not yet paved with asphalt. Avid area cyclists would be quick to note that the highlighting of the roads here is not unlike the Washington area bicycle map provided today by DDOT (PDF 13.82 MB)

To find bicycle maps and related materials, search the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Since maps are primarily location based, you can keyword search "bicycle maps" or use Subject Headings specific to the location you are interested in. For example, Bicycle Trails--Germany or Cycling--Michigan--Maps. So the formula is Bicycle Trails--Location, or Cycling--Location--Maps

Learn more about the Library's geographic and local history collections through the following research centers: 

Digital Collection and Subscription Database

The following digital collection provides access to maps for cities and towns throughout the United States.

The subscription resources marked with a padlock are available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress. If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.