Dave Moulton

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« This is Interesting | Main | AAA Encourages Motorists to Share the Road »

We owe a lot to the bicycle

Modern road and air transport owes a great deal to the bicycle and to those who experimented on perfecting it.

Some thirty years before the first automobile was built, innovations appeared on bicycles, many of which are built into the design of powered transport today. A few of them are:

  • Pneumatic tires
  • Cable control brakes and other units
  • Ball Bearings
  • Free wheels
  • Differential gears
  • Chain drives
  • Shaft drives
  • Variable gears – the foundation of the transmission

Equally important contributions were improvements in the specifications of metals, also changes came about in machine tools, engineering techniques, and in production methods.

Many of the people who designed and manufactured bicycles went on the design and build the first automobiles. American aviation pioneers Orville and Wilber Wright designed bicycles in their Dayton, Ohio factory that subsequently became a proving ground for airplane components.

Today, bicycle advocates have to lobby government to maintain the cyclist’s rights to be on the road. Many forget it was similar bicycle advocates who were instrumental in getting roads paved in the first place at the turn of the last century. Paved roads that were suitable for the introduction of the automobile.

The bicycle came into being as a viable form of transport and for many years was recognized and accepted as such. Somehow over the years the bicycle became relegated to the status of a recreational toy.

The next time you are sitting on an airplane, or you see an eighteen-wheeler truck hauling the nation’s supplies along our highways; you might do well to remember it all began with the humble bicycle



Reader Comments (4)

The bicycle is also a time machine and thus a major contributor to a higher quality of life. I can either walk for 120 minutes to make a 6 mile roundtrip or cycle for 30 minutes (or less). Choosing cycling saves me 90 minutes which can be used for productive purposes and/or relaxation.

Cars have many of similar advantages until everyone else uses them. Then there are those other costs like fuel, poor health, obesity, noise, pollution and higher road risks. Civility also suffers.

May 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Howdy! Thanks for an insightful blog, and for advice on taping handlebars. My first road bike is now ready.

Think of how integral the bicycle is to transportation and everyday life in other countries- are we really so "lucky" here to be able to drive everywhere? Of course, places like Bangkok and Amsterdam don't have much snowfall, making cycling year-round feasible.

May 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRock Jock

... and Flight!
awesome blog too btw.

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjim

mi bike, i owe many many things - and all positive - lately
i feel inept without getting to places by bike, even for a few hours
<3 m.

May 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermeligrosa

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