Macmillan, Kirkpatrick

Macmillan, Kirkpatrick
SUBJECT AREA: Land transport
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b. 1810
d. 1878
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Scottish inventor and builder of the first pedal-operated bicycle.
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Macmillan was the blacksmith at the village of Courthill, Dumfriesshire, Scotland. Before 1839, bicycles were of the draisienne or hobby-horse type, which were propelled by the rider's feet pushing alternately on the ground. Macmillan was the first to appreciate that two wheels placed in line could be balanced while being propelled by means of treadles and cranks fitted to one of the axles. His machine, completed in 1839, had wooden wheels shod with iron tyres, and a curved wooden frame which was forked to take the rear axle; the front, steering wheel was carried in an iron fork. The axles ran in brass bearings. Cranks were keyed to the rear axle which was driven by rods connected to two swinging arms; these were pivotted from the frame near the pivot of the front fork, and had foot treadles at their lower ends. Macmillan frequently rode this machine the 22.5 km (14 miles) from Courthill to Dumfries. In 1842 he was fined five shillings at the Gorbals Police Court for knocking over a child at the end of a 64 km (40 mile) ride from Courthill to Glasgow.
Although several people copied Macmillan's machine over the next twenty years and it anticipated the rear-driven safety bicycle by some forty years, it did not prove popular.
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Further Reading
C.F.Caunter, 1955, The History and Development of Cycles, London: HMSO.
IMcN

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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