It was June 1895, when two passionate scientists who shared the same pastime, decided to give each other a bicycle on their wedding and then they set off on their honeymoon ride. Maybe there would not be anything unique about it, if not for two facts. The people were Maria Sklodowska Curie and her husband Pierre and it took place when Poland did not exist as an independent country. Women’s position in society, at that time, was still subservient.
When one thinks about the emancipation movement it is very difficult to realize how important a role was played by the bicycle. With the first invention and then popularization of the bicycle, women started to be noticed and heard. Interestingly, not only ways of thinking were changed but also clothes and social norms. Can you imagine a young lady wearing all those heavy yards of fabric riding easily on a bike? Surely not. In that way, a bicycle became a catalyst for social changes. Not riding a bike was synonymous with inhibition and that was not the thing women wanted for themselves.
When I was a child, a bicycle was my most wanted thing. Yet, I needed to wait until the second grade of primary school to get one from my godparents. I exactly remember it. It was a blue folding vehicle produced by the Polish company „Romet” which was a legend at that time. Legendaries were the models Wigry, Jubilat and Gazela which enjoyed the greatest popularity. And it would not be an exaggeration to say that with getting a bike, my position in our local community changed a lot. Also, new opportunities for spending my free time began to unfold for me because I did not have to limit my mobility to only our countryside.
But, with getting older I realized that golden years of riding a bicycle were coming to the end. After the initial boom for bicycles, quite quickly they started to be perceived as the cheapest means of transport. Cycling indicated the poor financial situation of a family who could not afford a car, at a time when cars were no longer reserved only for party activists and supporters of the new regime.
And now, many years after that I am happy to see so many bicycles back on the streets of Cracow. I even bought a new one two years ago and since I can imagine my life without a car, my life without a bicycle would not be the same. First of all, the city center of Cracow is highly congested and certainly, it is not a good idea to go there by car. Secondly, even if you manage to do it, finding a nice parking space at a reasonable price would be a real challenge. So the bicycle is just made for it!
Nowadays in Cracow, there are quite many nice bicycle lanes. Yet, I can particularly recommend the route which runs from the Czyzyny District to the Cracow Canoe Club „KOLNA”. To be honest, it is my favourite one. Most of it is situated next to the southern bank of the Vistula River offering you a picturesque view over the most important parts of Cracow. Taking this route will enable you to see the snapshot of the history and modern way of living of its citizens, in a very peaceful atmosphere.
Now, when we do not need to fight for anything and it is not seen as an activity for the poor, maybe discovering Cracow on a bike would be a great opportunity to go a little further off the beaten track? It is undoubtedly worth your consideration!