Land Transport: Pioneering Ideas – Innovators and their Inventions and Discoveries

Insights into the pioneers of land transport, their inventions and discoveries – the bicycle, bus, motor car and motorcycle.

The history of land travel inventions and discoveries, along with the pioneers who laid the foundations, has gone a long way. Here are interesting facts:


  1. Kirkpatrick Macmillan, a blacksmith in Scotland, invented his bicycle for personal use, in 1839. It had a wooden frame with a seat, a wheel at the front of the frame and a slightly larger one at the back, and fitted his wheels with iron tyres. Two pedals moved backwards and forwards and were connected by cranks to the rear wheel.
  2. Pierre Michaux, a coachbuilder of Paris improved Macmillan’s bicycle in 1861, with pedals that went round and round like a handle instead of just backwards and forwards. His son, Ernest, put his idea to work.
  3. Coventry Machine Company made the first all-metal bicycle called Ariel in 1870. It was the first machine to have wheels with wire spokes.
  4. Tangent & Coventry Tricycle Company (later became Rudge Cycles) launched a chain driven bicycle.
  5. Until this time, the wheels were still of unequal sizes. John Starley’s successful Rover Safety Bicycle appeared in 1885. The wheels were equal in size, and this time, with a geared chain-drive operated by rotating pedals. Starley’s design is almost the same as all standard bikes of today.


  • The first bus, known as a carrosse, was introduced in Paris by Blaise Pascal, in 1662. It was horse-drawn and carried eight people. Carosses was a great innovation, as it ran every few minutes.
  • By 1823, Stanislaus Baudry operated carrosses in the town of Nantes, France. It was popular so Baudry decided to expand the service, and tried to find a name which would let people know that this was a service for everyone.

The terminus which he used in the centre of Nantes was outside a shop owned by M. Omnes, called Omnes Omnibus. The Latin word ‘omnibus’ means ‘for everything’ as Omnes’s shop claimed to sell everything for everyone. Baudry then chose ‘omnibus’ for his transport service, later reduced just to ‘bus.’

Motor Car

  1. Etienne Lenoir, a Belgian enameller turned engineer who lived in Paris invented the first motor car in 1862. Previously, he invented the electric brakes and a railway signalling system. His engine ran on liquid hydrocarbon. He had invented engines which ran on the same compound before but these were too big, until in 1862, he made one small enough to fit into his vehicle. Lenoir gave up inventing cars after this project.
  2. Eduard Delamare-Deboutteville, of Fontaine-le-Bourg, France, made the first petrol-engined car in 1883. His first model had iron-tyred wheels and risked being shaken apart. The second model, a three-wheeler, had rubber tyres, but the engine was too heavy. He also gave up inventing motor cars.
  3. Karl Benz, of Mannheim, Germany, made the first successful petrol-engineed car in 1885, the three-cylinder engine drove the two rear wheels, and it had a differential gear. It was driven for the first time in 1886 at a little over nine miles an hour.
  4. Gottlieb Daimler, of Cannstatt, Germany, produced the first four-wheeled car at the same time, also driven in 1886. Since then, both firms continued to develop various cars until the consolidation of Daimler-Benz in 1926.
  5. Daimler and Benz, however, never actually met. Benz was the first to manufacture cars to sell to the public. The famous Mercedes-Benz cars were introduced in 1901, named after Karl’s daughter, Mercedes.

Motor Cycle

  • Gottlieb Daimler built the first motor cycle in 1885. It was ridden by his son, Paul, for six miles. Daimler’s original intention was not to make motor bikes.
  • Hildebrand Wolfmuller, of Munich , Germany, manufactured the first motor cycle for sale to the public in 1894, the same year that Aleandre Darracq, of France, began to manufacture them too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *