A crucial design advance was the invention of the safety bicycle. Although its equal-sized wheels made it easier to mount and distinctly safer to ride than the highwheeler, it did not become truly popular until the 1890s. In the 1870s, H. Bates of Croyden, England, built a bicycle, named the Flying Dutchman, that used a drive connected to the rear wheel. This drive, which consisted of pulleys and a cord, was improved by the safety Bicyclette of Henry J. Lawson, which featured a chain and sprocket drive connected to the rear wheel.
Around 1885 John Kemp Starley (a nephew of James Starley) and William Sutton introduced the Rover safety bicycle, a machine that featured two equal-sized wheels 76 cm (30 in) in diameter and a chain-driven rear wheel. Around the same time, C. A. Linley and J. Biggs introduced the Whippet spring-frame safety bicycle, which featured a triangular frame that hinted at the diamond shape that is now standard, with set positions for the saddle, pedals, and handlebars. The frame also had two springs that were intended to absorb road shock; this feature made the Whippet very popular until John B. Dunlopís newly developed pneumatic (air-filled) tires were added in 1889. Further innovations over the next decade included the use of ball bearings to reduce friction on moving parts, assembly-line production methods, steel tubing, two- and three-speed hub gears, a coaster brake, and derailleur gears.
The development of the safety bicycle and its tremendous popularity in the 1890s also ushered in many social changes, among them changes in womenís fashions. Bloomers, for example, were named for Amelia Bloomer, who strongly advocated them for riding a bicycle.