Awesome Photographs of People Riding Around on Scooters From the Early 20th Century

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The Autoped was an early motor scooter or motorized scooter manufactured by the Autoped Company of Long Island City, New York from 1915 to 1921.

The driver stood on a platform with 10-inch tires and operated the machine using only the handlebars and steering column, pushing them forward to engage the clutch, using a lever on the handlebar to control the throttle, and pulling the handlebars and column back to disengage the clutch and apply the brake.

After riding, the steering column would be folded onto the platform to store the scooter more easily. The engine was an air-cooled, 4-stroke, 155 cc engine over the front wheel. The bike came with a headlamp and tail lamp, a Klaxon horn, and a toolbox. Developed during wartime and gasoline rationing, it was quite efficient, but was not widely distributed. An electric version was also available with a motor on the front wheel.

A patent for the Autoped as a “self-propelled vehicle” was applied for in July 1913 and granted in July 1916. An early description of the Autoped described it as having a hollow steering column that acted as the fuel tank. However, the production version had a fuel tank above the front mudguard.

The Autoped went out of production in the United States in 1921, but was manufactured by Krupp in Germany from 1919 to 1922.

During the 1930s, scooters were introduced to a new market as the ideal mode of transport at large, sprawling military bases. Ironically, the era of the scooter truly began after the war — a direct result of fuel rationing.

Four special delivery postmen for the US Postal Service try out new scooters, c.1915.

Lady Norman on her scooter, c.1916.

Crowds gather around a two wheeler motor scooter, June 1919.

A folded Rouline scooter, Paris, 1919.

A man driving one of the first models of scooters, c.1920.

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