18 Quotes on Bicycling From Famous People

row of bicycles

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There have been a lot of wise and insightful statements about bicycling made by a variety of colorful figures over the years. Here are 18 notable quotes, mostly from people famous for other reasons, and one from at least one person you would not expect to ride a bicycle at all. 

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Francis Willard, American Author and Suffragette

Frances Willard

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"Tens of thousands who could never afford to own, feed and stable a horse, had by this bright invention enjoyed the swiftness of motion which is perhaps the most fascinating feature of material life."

Frances Willard (1839–1898), author of "A Wheel Within a Wheel: How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle," (1865) was a contemporary and friend to Susan B. Anthony. She learned to ride a bicycle late in life and noted how dress reform was needed to do it well. Bloomers were a controversial new fashion that were better adapted for cycling than full skirts. Bicycles gave women freedom of movement, enabling them to leave the home.

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John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

President Kennedy

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"Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride."

John F. Kennedy and his family were noted sports enthusiasts, and it inspiring to know that JFK valued cycling. His son, JFK Jr., was often photographed on a bicycle.

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H.G. Wells, Novelist

Herbert George Wells

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"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race."

H.G. Wells created science fiction including "The War of the Worlds," "The Time Machine," and "The Island of Doctor Moreau." He also wrote on politics and utopian visions of the future. He further wrote that he believed cycle tracks would abound in Utopia.

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Charles Shulz, Cartoonist

Charles Schulz

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"Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use."

Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts cartoon strip. has words that can make you wonder whether you are fully up to speed on how and when to shift gears.

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Wolfgang Sachs, Former Chairman of Greenpeace, Germany

Wolfgang Sachs

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"Those who wish to control their own lives and move beyond existence as mere clients and consumers—those people ride a bike."

Wolfgang Sachs, of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, and the former Chairman of Greenpeace, Germany notes that when you ride a bike, you free yourself from the auto and petroleum industries while enjoying the roads and pathways.

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Susan B. Anthony, American Abolitionist and Suffragette

Susan B. Anthony

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"Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel...the picture of free, untrammeled."

Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906) was a leader of the American women's suffrage movement. Bicycles became wildly popular in the 1890s and ushered in a new era where women were not tied to the home. The New Woman would go to college, enjoy sports, and develop a career.

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Mark Twain, American Humorist and Novelist

Mark Twain Portrait

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'Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.'

Mark Twain (1835–1910) learned to ride one of the high-wheel bicycles in the 1880s and wrote about it in "Taming the Bicycle." Bicycling has its risks, which is why bicycle helmets are an essential piece of gear and required in many jurisdictions.

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Lance Armstrong, Cyclist

Lance Armstrong

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"If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on."

Lance Armstrong had a bumpy ride. After beating testicular cancer, he went on to win the Tour de France seven times. However, his titles were stripped from him due to doping. It remains to be seen if he can return from that fall.

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Arthur Conan Doyle, British Novelist

Arthur Conan Doyle and wife on tandem bike

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"When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking."

Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, expresses what many cyclists feel. Cycling is a great way to clear your mind and relieve stress while you get a good aerobic workout.

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Ann Strong, Journalist

woman and bike, circa 1895

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"The bicycle is just as good company as most husbands and, when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community."

Ann Strong, Minneapolis Tribune, 1895. This quote comes from the era when bicycling first became widely popular and gave women increased freedom. The suffrage movement was steering a new course for women, away from traditional marriage, and the bicycle was one tool in creating this freedom.

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Bill Strickland, Author

Bill Strickland

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"The bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created. Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon."

Bill Strickland, from "The Quotable Cyclist," says bicycles are certainly green machines. While petroleum products may go into the various components, you don't need to refuel it other than with your muscle power.

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Albert Einstein, Nobel Prize Winner in Physics

Albert Einstein

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"Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving."

"I thought of that while riding my bicycle."

Albert Einstein enjoyed the mental benefits of riding a bicycle. Physical activity increases blood circulation to the brain. As a physicist, he spelled out the nature of the force of gravity, which plays a role in the mechanics of bike riding.

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Louis Baudry de Saunier, French Journalist

Family Group On Tandem Bike

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"Cycling has encountered more enemies than any other form of exercise."

Louis Baudry de Saunier was born in 1865 and in this quote noted the attitude of some in France to the new-fangled machines clogging their roads. Today's motorists often seem to hold the same sentiments, and cyclists must ride defensively

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Iris Murdoch, British Author

Iris Murdoch

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"The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart."

Iris Murdoch (1919–1999) lived in the era when automobiles became popular and cities became oriented to accommodate them. Many cyclists will agree with this assessment, even as cities struggle to become less car-centric.

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Ernest Hemingway, American Novelist

Hemingway Holding A Sword

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"It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle."

Ernest Hemingway makes an observation that is as true today as ever. When cycling, you absorb what is around you in a new way, as it takes physical effort to travel.

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William Saroyan, American Playwrite

William Saroyan

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"The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind."
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Bob Weir, Guitarist, Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead Guitarist Bob Weir

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"Bicycles are almost as good as guitars for meeting girls."

A noted muscian gives a ringing endorsement of the social aspects of riding a bicycle.

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Helen Keller, Author

Helen Keller

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"Next to a leisurely walk I enjoy a spin on my tandem bicycle. It is splendid to feel the wind blowing in my face and the springy motion of my iron steed. The rapid rush through the air gives me a delicious sense of strength and buoyancy, and the exercise makes my pulse dance and my heart sing."

Helen Keller, who was both blind and deaf, notes how the physical effects of bike riding are exhilarating to the senses. Take the time on your bike to appreciate how it feels.