Wednesday, March 6, 2024

A Bicycle Built for One?

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Because of their metal and rubber components, bicycles were scrutinized by the federal government and almost immediately after the U.S. entry into the war, came under consumer manufacturing guidelines. Bicycles were cheaper to manufacture and used less materials than automobiles, but metal and rubber were required for military items. The two entities involved in determining the production and allocation of bikes were the War Production Board (WPB) and Office of Price Administration (OPA).

In December 1941, the OPA worked with leading manufacturers to develop specifications for a simplified bicycle unsurprisingly dubbed the “Victory Bicycle,” joining Victory Mail and Victory Gardens, and other “Victory” items. Prototypes were submitted for examination, and in March 1942 regulations were finalized. Bikes could not weigh more than thirty-one pounds and they could only be made of steel, with no copper or nickel parts. Chrome plating was limited to a few small pieces of hardware, with handlebars and wheel rims painted instead of chrome-plated. Most accessories, such as chain guards, baskets, luggage racks, and bells, were eliminated. Tire width could be no more than 1.375 inches. Considering that paved roads were the exception rather than the norm in many towns across the nation, thinner tires, no doubt, made for a challenging ride.

A freeze was put on bicycle sales and the government allocated nearly 10,000 bikes to war manufacturing plants for use by workers and messengers. The WPB announced that 750,000 Victory bikes would be produced by twelve companies that had been selected. The manufacture of other types of bicycles was prohibited. By July 1942, OPM estimated that 150,000 Victory bicycles and 90,000 prewar bikes were available for retail sale.

However, not just anyone could purchase a bicycle.

An adult who was employed in the defense industry or contributed in some way to the war effort or
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public welfare could apply for a purchase certificate, but had to cite a compelling reason such as inadequate public transportation, excessive walking, or responsibility for delivery service. Information Bulletin No. 1 published in July 1942 specified that certificates were limited to the gainfully employed and war workers who needed to travel at least three days a week, those who had not recently purchased a bike, and those who demonstrated that they would use the bicycle for needed transportation.
The paperwork process was extensive. If the local rationing board approved the request, a three-part certificate was issued. Part C (proof of need) remained with the purchaser, Part B remained with the merchant (who submitted collected certificates to resellers or warehouses when new stock was needed), and Part A went to the national inventory unit.

In August 1942, eligibility was restricted further to those in “critical” occupations, such as doctors, nurses, ministers, school teachers, firefighters, police officers, postal carriers, construction workers, and others deemed to fit this category. Some companies owned fleets of bicycles for work-related uses such as electric meter reading.

WPB further limited bicycle rationing in September 1942, and the twelve authorized Victory bicycle manufacturers were reduced to two. Huffman and Westfield were tasked with producing all bikes for military, Lend-Lease, and civilians. The previous model – a cargo bike that OPA head Leon Henderson had ridden in a circuit around the Washington, DC mall in January of that year – was discontinued.

The number of issued certificates did not come close to the quota levels, and manufacturing levels didn’t reach production promises. Yet another order was issued by WPB in October 1942 that “restricts the manufacture of new bicycles to 10,000 per month.” Additionally, “it is doubtful if the full 10,000 monthly production ticket assigned will be met because manufacturers will not secure the required amounts of steel.” As a result, reported production for 1943 was only 154,586 new bicycles built for both civilian and military use.

A successful program? You be the judge.


A Love Not Forgotten

Allison White should be thrilled about her upcoming wedding. The problem? She's still in love with her fiance, Chaz, who was declared dead after being shot down over Germany in 1944. Can she put the past behind her and settle down to married life with the kindhearted man who loves her?

It's been nearly two years since Charles "Chaz" Powell was shot down over enemy territory. The war is officially over, but not for him. He has amnesia as a result of injuries sustained in the crash, and the only clue to his identity is a love letter with no return address. Will he ever regain his memories and discover who he is, or will he have to forge a new life with no connections to the past?

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Linda Shenton Matchett writes happily-ever-after historical Christian fiction about second chances and women who overcome life’s challenges to be better versions of themselves.

Whether you choose her books set in the Old West or across the globe during WWII, you will be immersed in the past through rich detail. Follow the journeys of relatable characters whose faith is sorely tested, yet in the end, emerge triumphant. Be encouraged in your own faith-walk through stories of history and hope.


  1. Thanks for posting today. This was very interesting!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the article. You are such a faithful follower and encourager! Thank you.