The first Penny Farthing, ‘ordinary’ or ‘high-wheeler’, as this type of cycle is also often referred to, was apparently created by Frenchman Eugene Meyer in 1896 to provide wealthy young men with a cycle that could go faster. This new cycle was not for the faint-hearted and could reach top speeds of up to 40 km/h (24.855 mph).
Demise and revival
For some time, Penny Farthings were highly popular, and ever increasing diameters of the front wheel (up to two metres, or six and a half feet) offered ever increasing speeds. Unfortunately, these contraptions were extremely dangerous, and cycling accidents resulting in serious injuries and deaths were common. Eventually, the arrival of safer two-wheeled cycles signalled the end of the high-wheeler. Over the last few years, however, there has been a revival of interest in the Penny Farthing.
The dangers now and then
Today’s Penny Farthing riders face the same common dangers and cycling injuries the young men of the late 19th Century faced. There are three main causes for injuries by Penny Farthing accidents, namely loss of balance, vehicle collisions due to an inability to stop fast and hitting obstacles.
Loss of balance
Many Penny Farthing injuries are caused by cyclists losing their balance while mounting them, gripping the handle bars too tightly, or while turning corners. Common injuries by falling off the cycle include bruises, grazes, cuts and other, more serious personal injuries like broken bones, for instance.
Inability to stop
While the brakes used on modern Penny Farthings are far more sophisticated than those used in the ‘early days’, it is still difficult to stop the momentum of the large front wheel quickly (which is dangerous in itself). This could make it impossible to stop in time to prevent traffic accidents.
The most dangerous high-wheeler injuries include head and neck injuries by riders being catapulted over the handle bars and onto the ground when the front wheel is stopped dead by hitting bumps, potholes and other obstacles (or attempts to brake sharply).
Penny Farthings and other traffic
If you were hurt in a road traffic accident, whether a Penny Farthing was involved or not, and another driver was responsible for it, you could be eligible to receive compensation. Find out if you are entitled to claim for cycling injury, driver or passenger injury compensation by calling the 24/7 help line or visiting the website of Accident Advice Helpline now.
Date Published: September 30, 2014
Author: Accident Advice