Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bicycle caused the automobile - automobile caused lethargic living

According to Hiram Maxim, one of the first inventors of the automobile, the bicycle created a demand for independent travel (instead of train) without the horse. But then the demand went wild and bicycle manufacturers started throwing gas engines on the things and the rest is history. So all us fuel burning lovers have the bicycle to thank for our addictions.
We have had the steam-engine for over a century. We could have built steam vehicles in 1880, or indeed in 1870. But we did not. We waited until 1895. The reason why we did not build mechanical road vehicles before this, in my opinion, was because the bicycle had not yet come in numbers and had not directed men's minds to the possibilities of independent, long-distance travel over the ordinary highway. We thought the railroad was good enough. The bicycle created a new demand which it was beyond the ability of the railroads to supply. Then it came about that the bicycle could not satisfy the demand which it had created.
It is interesting that at the end of his life he was kind of sad about the beast he created.
There is one thing which I regret. It is that the thrill I experienced when I rode my bicycle from Salem to Lynn that summer night in the long ago has gone.
He then goes on to tell about how he dreamed of a machine that will take you anywhere without using any human energy and how he was left dissatisfied with the realization of his dreams.
I used to dream of skimming over the country highways, up hill and down dale, with no effort except that of steering. Today the ability to do this is taken for granted; a motor trip has become as prosaic as a ride in a railroad train. All the hopes and ambitions of 1893 have been realized; but with their realization the sparkle and the thrill have departed.
Robert Hurst ends his book with a request.
What I'm saying is do more of your traveling in a mode that adds life rather than takes it away. Whatever mode you choose, make sure it gets you where you need to go in good time, but also choose a mode that makes you stronger and happier, that makes your soul smile and your spirit fly. If you can find a way to add some adventure to a mundane daily commute, I suggest you do that. Life is too short, my friends.

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