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Pedal power

Freewheeling: Cycling in Australia

Pedal power

For more than half a century, many Australians preferred bicycles for their everyday transport. Bikes fell from favour from the 1950s as cars transformed the way people travelled. However, as traffic congestion increased and people's health declined, cycling advocacy groups, public health experts, environmental activists and urban planners called for a rethinking of the bicycle's possibilities as a means of moving people and goods, particularly in our cities.

Exhibition highlights

Freewheeling tracks the changing popularity of the bicycle as a means of transport, and the history of mass participation rides to raise the profile of cycling and other unrelated causes.

  • A black and white photographic postcard featuring a messenger boy holding a bicycle and wearing a hat and jacket with letters in his left hand.
    Messenger boy, 1917
  • Letter from Express Messenger Company, 1902
    Bubonic plague letter, 1902
  • Commonwealth Jubilee Loyalty Ride bike identity tag, 1951
    Jubilee Loyalty Ride tag, 1951
  • A group of cyclists on the Great Ocean Road.
    Great Victorian Bike Ride, 2009
  • A group of cyclists.
    Critical Mass protest ride, 2004