The first mention of bicycles in the West Country of England comes from the Bath Gazette in May 1843 which notes two descriptions of three wheeled vehicles in use on the streets of Bath. One was propelled by the rider ‘rising up and down, after the manner of horse exercise’ which sounds like it was some sort of treadle mechanism. the other, invented by a local artisan, specifically names it was propelled by use of treadles ‘which moved a crank close to the small guiding wheel. It is recorded that the inventor took 1 1/2 hours to get from Bristol to Bath, which is not bad given the poor state of roads and the possible dangers of other traffic.
Bicycles began to appear from 1860 and caused much astonishment in rural districts. ‘a Somerset peasant, dumbfounded by their speed and inexplicable mode of propulsion, described a party of excoursionists as being “the cheeribums as Daniel seed.”
Interestingly, there is no record of their effect on horses or other animals, given the fear caused by the first motor cars and early balloons. Many years ago whilst cycling round Ireland, I was often followed by horses and cows in their fields who were intrigued by who or what I was.