On 12 June 1817, a crowd gathered along the best road in Mannheim, Germany to watch Baron Karl von Drais demonstrate his newest invention: the draisienne, a two-wheeled horseless vehicle propelled by its rider. Drais climbed on and set out for the Schwetzinger switch house, a strategic point along the postal route. Less than an hour later, he was back, having completed the 8-9 mile round trip in a quarter of the usual time. Two hundred years later, we salute Drais and his draisienne as a significant milestone on the long road of innovation leading to the bicycle of today.
Baron Karl von Drais
Karl Freidrich Christian Ludwig Freiherr Drais von Sauerbronn (29 April 1785 – 10 December 1851), was born in Karlesruh, Baden, to a family of influential civil servants with minor royal connections. His mother was Baroness von Kaltenthal, his father served as a judge, and his godfather was the Grand Duke of Baden Karl Freidrich.