Pierre Lallement

Pierre Lallement
American Inventor 
of the

Click here for an audio history of the invention of the Bicycle.

Pierre Lallement was an enterprising young man who arrived in Ansonia (then a borough of Derby!) in 1865 after dabbling in making baby carriages and his own new invention called the velocipede, better known today as the bicycle. According to historical accounts, he saw people using a rather awkward wheeled vehicle known as a dandy horse, and added the basic components of today's bicycles to create a working bicycle.

A French blacksmith by the name of Pierre Michaux took Lallement's design and started to produce sell bicycles by 1867. By that time, Lallement was in the US and working on an improved version. In April, 1866 he demonstrated his new device with a ride from Ansonia to Birmingham (Derby's other borough!) and back. He eventually took a longer trip to New Haven.


 On November 20, 1866, he filed for U. S. patent # 59,915 - the first patent issued for a true bicycle. He never really capitalized on his invention as he could not find investors. He returned to Paris for a time, and while there,  sold the patent to Calvin Witty of Brooklyn who later became part of a major lawsuit before the company that produced Columbia bikes eventually gained legal possession - and made a fortune.

Lallement did not fare so well. He died in Boston at the age of 47 and for many years his role as the inventor of the bicycle was forgotten while many gave the credit to Michaux. However in recent years, history has been much kinder to Lallement, and his work.

In 1998. Lallement's historic ride was reenacted as part of New Haven's International Festival of Arts & Ideas and the plaque pictured below recognizing him as the inventor of the bicycle was first unveiled. Historians have come to dismiss other claims for the invention of the bike and recognize Lallement's patent as proof of his great accomplishment.

New Haven monument to Pierre Lallement

A Boston bicycle historian named David Herlihy has done much research to establish the Lallement claim to the invention, and there is a bicycle path in Boston named for Lallement.

These pictures of the Lallement Bike Path in Roxbury, MA and his grave in West Roxbury were taken by local historian Marian O'Keefe.


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