Home Front Friday: Ride a Bike!
Home Front Friday is a regular series that highlights the can do spirit on the Home Front during WWII and illustrates how that spirit is still alive today!
Around this time of year, it’s easy to put the bicycle away and take the car to the corner store four blocks away just to avoid the heat. But here at The National World War II Museum, we’d like to remind you to think of your bike! It can be easy to take the thing for granted with the many pleasures of today.
Discussing the Home Front during WWII seems to always lead back to rationing, and bicycles were not immune to these changes. In fact, bicycles today would be much different if it wasn’t for WWII! The demand for metal for war materials required that bicycle makers decrease the weight of their bikes. Bikes went from 57 pounds in 1941 to 31 pounds in mid-1942, never to go back.
And the companies had to keep creating bicycles, as much of the United States population relied on them as the primary form of transportation to and from work.
They were also used by soldiers overseas. Though Allied use of bikes was limited, they were supplied to paratroopers and messengers. Bicycles were dropped out of planes to reach troops behind enemy lines, as well. The 25th United States Infantry, a majority African-American infantry regiment, often used bicycles in their missions.
And today, we can very easily pick up our new lightweight bikes and enjoy a stroll around the town. Your bike and your body will thank you!
Posted by Laurel Taylor, Education Intern and Lauren Handley, Assistant Director of Education for Public Programs at The National WWII Museum