Baron von Drais introduced a machine to the public in Paris. It had two inline wheels connected by a wooden frame. The rider sat astride and pushed it along with his feet, while steering the front wheel.
The first means of transport making use of two wheels, and thus the archetype of the bicycle, was the German draisine dating back to 1817. The term bicycle was coined in France in the 1860s. Karl von Drais patented this design in 1818 which was the first commercially successful two wheeled, steerable, human propelled machine commonly called a velocipede, nicknamed hobby horse or dandy horse. It was initially manufactured in Germany and France. Hans Erhard Lessing found from circumstantial evidence that Drais' interest in finding an alternative to the horse was the starvation and death of horses caused by crop failure in 1816.
Drais' velocipede provided the basis for further developments: in fact, it was a draisine which inspired a French metalworker around 1863 to add rotary cranks and pedals to the front wheel hub, to create the first pedal operated "bicycle" as we today understand the word. In the United States, Bostonians such as Frank Weston started importing bicycles in 1877 and 1878, and Albert Augustus Pope started production of his "Columbia" high wheelers in 1878, and gained control of nearly all applicable patents, starting with Lallement's 1866 patent.
The development of the safety bicycle was arguably the most important change in the history of the bicycle. It shifted their use and public perception from being a dangerous toy for sporting young men to being an everyday transport tool for men and, crucially, women of all ages. Aside from the obvious safety problems, the high wheeler's direct front wheel drive limited its top speed. Accordingly, inventors tried a rear wheel chain drive. Although Henry Lawson invented a rear chain drive bicycle in 1879 with his "bicyclette", it still had a huge front wheel and a small rear wheel. Detractors called it "The Crocodile", and it failed in the market
Cycling steadily became more important in Europe over the first half of the twentieth century, but it dropped off dramatically in the United States between 1900 and 1910. Automobiles became the preferred means of transportation.