"The citizens of Saratoga, recognizing the great popularity of cycling..."

Saratoga Illustrated floral parade pulling bicycle

This photo was part of a section not about cycling, but about the Saratoag floral parades. "No single event at Saratoga can perhaps compete with the grand floral parade given annually in September."

While flipping through the 1900 Saratoga Illustrated guide book for background on that ostrich farm, this photo caught our eye because it's just sort of goofy.

But we thought this nearby passage about bicycling in turn-of-the-century Saratoga Springs was interesting -- both because of the glimpse it provides of cycling before the advent of the mass car culture (production of the Model T would start in 1908):

The citizens of Saratoga, recognizing the great popularity of cycling, and the demands of so many visitors to Saratoga for proper facilities for this healthful and delightful exercise, have prepared several cycle paths especially set apart for the use of bicyclers. At considerable expense several delightful paths have been laid out, running from Saratoga Springs to various points in its vicinity. Recently a cycle path has been constructed along the side of the carriage road from Saratoga Springs to the several geyser springs. Another has been constructed along the south side of Union Avenue from Saratoga Springs to Saratoga Lake, making a route of eight miles for the round trip. Another very important path is from the village of Saratoga Springs to Glens Falls and return, making a round trip of forty miles.

After the jump is a set of cycle routes listed in the guide book -- it indicates there were cycle paths between Albany and Saratoga.

There's another photo/illustration in the book that depicts two very large rows of bicycles on Broadway (the image quality isn't great -- it's on pdf p. 29). And the descriptions of the some the hotels mention they provided bicycle storage rooms for guests.

Anyway, the guide book -- which is available as a pdf from archive.org -- is full of illustrations and descriptions as Saratoga Springs appeared around that time, including many of the grand hotels and other tourist attractions.

For the information of visitors to the Springs a list of the more important paths and routes, with the length thereof, is here given :
3-Mile Ride--Geysers and return, via Cycle Path out Ballston Avenue.
4-Mile Ride--Yaddo and return, via Union Avenue.
5-Mile Ride--Woodlawn Park, via North Broadway.
6-Mile Ride--Around Cycle Path, via Ballston Avenue and South Broadway,
7-Mile Ride--Lake Avenue to Kinkleys, to Union Avenue, to Broadway.
8-Mile Ride--Saratoga Lake and return, via Union Avenue Cycle Path.
14-Mile Ride--Ballston Spa and return, via Ballston Avenue Cycle Path.
16-Mile Ride--White Sulphur Spring and return, via Union Avenue, along east bank of lake.
24-Mile Ride--Round Lake and return, via South Broadway.
40-Mile Ride--Glens Fallslls and return, via Glens Falls Cycle Path.
60-Mile Ride--Lake George and return, via Glens Falls Cycle Path.
80-Mile Ride-Albany and return, via Cycle Paths.
100-Mile Ride--Castleton and return, via Cycle Paths.

photo from Saratoga Illustrated: The Visitor's Guide of Saratoga Springs (1900) via archive.org

Comments

"several cycle paths especially set apart for the use of bicyclers"

That's pretty ironic since Saratoga is currently a very bike hostile city, with almost no bike lanes, pavement in poor condition and drivers who try to run you off the road (especially during track season).

I've long felt I was born in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now I know where and when I should have happened. Thank you for lending focus to my despair. *sulkingawayinblackclouds*

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