Dave Moulton

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Bicycle Accident Lawyer




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James Starley: Father of the Bicycle Industry

James Starley (1830 - 1881) is considered to be the "Father of the Bicycle Industry." Born in Albourne, Sussex in the South of England, James Starley (Above.) left home at eighteen years old and took a job as a gardener.

Starley was a mechanical genius who gained a reputation for mending clocks and inventing useful gadgets. It is interesting how chance meetings in a person’s life can not only change the course of that individual’s life, but in this case change the course of history.

Starley’s employer, John Penn, bought an expensive sewing machine for his wife, which broke down. James of course fixed the problem and, what is more, envisioned improvements to the mechanism.

Penn knew Josiah Turner, one of the partners of the makers of the sewing machine, and in due course Starley was taken on as an employee at the London sewing machine factory.

His talent was such that Turner and Starley started their own sewing machine company around 1861. The pair moved to Coventry, in the West Midlands of England, because of the abundance of skilled machinists there. Coventry had previously been known for its clock making industry.

Once again a chance happening steered the company in a new direction. Turner's nephew brought a French Velocipede, (Above.) commonly known as a boneshaker to the factory in 1868, Starley again saw room for improvement and the company soon started making bicycles.

They built a bicycle called the “Ariel,” meaning “Spirit of the Air.” (Picture above.) The machine was lighter than the old Velocipede with a tubular steel frame and wire-spoke wheels that were far lighter than the old solid compression spoke wheels. James Starley later invented tangent or cross spoke wheels that were patented in 1874. Tangent spokes are still used today.

The Ariel evolved into the Ordinary or Penney Farthing bicycle, as the front wheel became larger in a quest for speed. James Starley would later partner with William Hillman to produce the Ordinary bicycle and also tricycles.

Steering problems, while riding a side-by-side tricycle tandem, caused by the unequal power input of the ageing James on one side and his stronger son on the other that prompted James Starley to invent the differential drive in 1877. This also solved the problem of the different speed of the inside and outside wheels when cornering. The differential was ready and waiting when the motor car needed the device.

Also brought into the bicycle manufacturing business was James Starley's nephew John Kemp Starley who would later start his own company in partnership with William Sutton. The early tricycles that John Starley worked on with his uncle were lever driven; later models were chain driven.

This chain drive would feature in John Kemp Starley’s “Rover” (Above.) safety bicycle first built in 1884. The Rover had 26 inch wheels that are still a standard size today, and although the frame did not have a seat tube, the diamond shape is basically the same as bicycles built today.

The name Rover had been previously used on a James Starley tricycle, (Left.) however, the name really suited the new bicycle as it freed the people to “rove” all over the countryside.

Others had experimented with chain-driven "safety bicycles" but the Rover was really the first practical model. It made its mark to the extent that "Rover" means "bike" in some countries such as Poland.

In due course, motor-driven bicycles became motorcycles and were followed by motor cars. John Kemp Starley experimented with an electric tri-car around 1888 but the petrol-driven Rover 8 h.p. car was released in 1904, two years after his death.

The Rover car company still exists. (Although throughout the years, it has been under different ownership.) Today they produce the Land-Rover.

William Hillman who partnered with James Starley to build bicycles, also went on to produce cars and for many years Hillman was a famous British name in automobiles.

And the first bicycle Starley produced, the “Ariel” became a famous British motorcycle.

Motorcycle enthusiasts will remember the Ariel 1000 Square Four from the late 1940s, early 1950s. (Pictured left.)

John Kemp Starley’s Rover set the standard design for the bicycle that has remained basically the same since. However, it was his uncle James Starley who paved the way for the “Safety Bicycle” with his use of chain drive. This, along with his other inventions and production methods, makes him the Father of the Bicycle Industry.

Assorted Starley bicycles can be seen in Coventry’s excellent Transport Museum. The City of Coventry is well worth a visit for this museum and for the beautiful cathedral.


What brings them here?

This blog gets around 1,200 hits a day now. Many people find it via a Google search. Here are some of the more unusual phrases that people have used to arrive here.

When can you shave your legs as a cyclist?
Any day that has an “R” in it. That way you avoid stubble on a Sunday.

Geek forearm numbness
Try changing hands

Wheelbarrow effect
The next big thing after the greenhouse gas effect

Beautiful Amazon bike snob
I guess if you are a beautiful Amazon, you can be any kind of snob you want

How heavy is a Dutch bike?
Beats me; that’s kinda like asking how long is a piece of string?

A man was riding up hill on his bike, yet he was walking
Is this a trick question? Yet was the name of his dog

Bottom bracket education
Set your sights a little higher; go for a top bracket education

Dave’s auction income
Not very much

Gay torn jeans blog
This blog has many facets, but that’s not one of them. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

How do you fix a bike?
You remove its nuts

My head is loose; can I still ride my bike?
Yes, just don’t ride over any bumps

What does one-way road mean?
Here’s a clue; if everything is coming towards you, you are on one and going the wrong way

Diamondback approach
My advice, don’t approach a diamondback

Can I ride further on a regular bike than on a stationary bike?
Duh, let me get back to you

Pictures of little men on bicycles
Are you the same person looking for the gay torn jeans blog?


A short story: AJ, the cyclist, and a large brown dog

Driving his old Ford truck on Rural Route 61; AJ was rolling along at about sixty, his usual 5 mph over the speed limit. Some distance three cars were ahead of him. As they approached a bend in the road, he saw the brake lights come on.

As he caught up and took his place behind the other three, he noticed a lone cyclist up ahead. "Damn cyclist," he mumbled, "Why do they have to ride in the middle of the road?"

Actually, the cyclist wasn't in the middle of the road, he was about two feet out from the edge of the lane, but with traffic approaching from the opposite direction, the lead car driver was being cautious.

The opposing traffic passed and the first three cars went around the cyclist. AJ realized he would have to wait as another vehicle was coming towards them. "Damn it," he cussed again.

The car passed and AJ when around the cyclist. He thought about honking his horn just to show his displeasure at the delay, but instead he just hit the gas pedal hard and roared by in a demonstration of raw power.

A few miles further on he saw brake lights again, and as he caught up to the same three cars, he saw them stop, then one by one swing clear over to the opposing lane. As the last car completed this maneuver, he saw the reason.

A large brown dog was trotting along the edge of the road. Strangely, AJ showed no anger or frustration this time. Just fear that the animal would suddenly dart across the road in front of an approaching van.

He stayed back some distance so as not to startle it, and when the van had passed, he took a wide sweep around the dog as the other drivers had done. He even considered stopping to pick it up, he had thought about getting a dog, but it probably belonged to someone living close by.

Some nine months earlier AJ had taken early retirement when the company he worked for had been making cutbacks. He and his wife had bought an old farmhouse on about eight acres in a rural area. He had bought the old truck to haul lumber and other materials. This particular day he was on his way to pick up some fence posts from a farming supply depot, some fifteen miles along Route 61.

AJ picked up the fence posts and as he pulled out from the supply depot. The road was clear except for a cyclist, the same one he had seen earlier. He waited for him to pass; now there was traffic coming in the opposite direction. "Damn it, that's the second time you've held me up today," he complained to himself, wishing the cyclist could hear him.

AJ turned towards home. Some four or five miles into the return trip, the old truck spluttered, and then stalled. He was on a downgrade so he was able to coast then pull onto a patch of dirt at the side of the road. After several unsuccessful attempts to start the engine, he got out of the truck, lifted the hood, and stared at the engine.

He was not even sure why he was doing this, he had no tools with him, and even if he had, he would not know where to start. He had been an accountant all his life, and had absolutely no mechanical knowledge. He reached in his back pocket for his cell phone, it was not there.

Then he remembered he had left the phone charging overnight in the kitchen. It was not in its usual place on the dresser with his wallet and change. "Now what?" he mumbled as he looked up and down the road. Nothing but farmland and open fields in either direction.

There was no alternative but to walk, and he had to walk on the road, tall grass and weeds at the side made it impossible to walk there. There was a white fog line painted on the edge of the road and no more than a few inches of paved road beyond that; AJ started to walk along this white line. He could have crossed over and walked facing the oncoming traffic, but he was hoping someone would stop and offer him a ride.

He had not walked far when he heard a car coming; he turned and waved a thumb. The car roared on by without even slowing. He walked on and the same thing happened again. He quickly realized his chances of getting a ride were slim. He was not particularly well dressed, and he never stopped to pick up hitchhikers.

He stopped pausing and turning every time a car approached from behind, it was pointless. For a while, he walked with his left thumb out, but then discontinued that as he resigned himself to a long walk home.

He noticed when there were no cars coming towards him, cars would swing over to the other side to pass. However, when there was traffic in both directions, they passed by a 60 mph with no thought of slowing down, often missing him by inches.

At one time, a large eighteen-wheeler went by, and although it missed him by at least two feet, its shear size, and those huge wheels, gave AJ the scare of his life. And the back draft almost blew him off his feet.

He must have walked at least five or six miles and was by now in a trance like state when he heard a cheery “Good morning.” The same cyclist he had seen twice before that day sped silently by him.

Somewhat startled AJ didn’t respond immediately, then called out, “Do you have a cell phone?” The cyclist had gone on by and did not understand what AJ had said. Then sensing it was a call for help, the cyclist slowed.

He looked back over his shoulder for traffic. It was clear and he did a U-turn and rode back to AJ. “Do you need help?” he asked. “Yes, do you have a cell phone?”
“I do,” answered the cyclist as he came to a stop and reached into his rear pocket for the phone.

“Thank God,” AJ said as he took the phone. “I broke down miles back and I must have walked for over an hour.” Just then, a car approached, “Here, let’s get off the road,” AJ said, “These damn cars won’t give you an inch.”

“Tell me about it,” said the cyclist. “That’s why I always ride about two or three feet from the edge of the road. It forces drivers to slow and make a conscious effort to pass me. Otherwise they just blow by as if I wasn’t there, missing me by inches.”

“What motorists don’t realize is, if I ride on this white line,” the cyclist stomped on the line with his heel to emphasize. “There are large pot-holes or places where the road simply disappears; not to mention tree braches and other debris lying at the edge. If I come up on one of these obstacles, either I hit it, with the risk falling into the road, or I swerve out into the road. With cars passing within inches at a high rate of speed, both could be deadly.”

AJ was inclined to agree with the cyclist but didn’t answer as he felt rather hypocritical in view of his previous attitude. The cyclist continued, “That’s why I ride out there, the inside wheels of the cars having worn it smooth. It is safer, and people can see me.”

AJ called his wife and told her what had happened. “Help is on the way,” he said as he handed the phone back to the cyclist. “Thank you so much,” he added. He looked at the cyclist for the first time and was surprised that he was an older man, maybe about his own age. Earlier when he saw him, he imagined him to be much younger.

“Do you need a drink?” The cyclist offered AJ his water bottle. “Thanks, I will.” As AJ took a drink, the large brown dog appeared, wagging his tail and slinking down at AJ’s feet. ”Do you think he needs a drink too?” the cyclist asked.

“Probably,” AJ answered, “I saw him earlier on my way out here.” AJ cupped his hands together as the cyclist poured some water for the dog to drink.” The dog lapped up the water.” Looks like you found yourself a dog.”

"It would seem like it.” AJ answered as the cyclist mounted his bike again and pushed off. “Thank you again,” AJ called out as he pulled away. “Glad to be of help,” the cyclist called back.

AJ slipped his belt from his pants and looped it around the dog’s collarless neck. “Here boy, let’s sit under this tree and wait for Momma.”

Footnote: The above is a short work of fiction, one that could take place anywhere in the US. (Or the world.)

Just a different way to get the safety message across. Also, to explain to motorists that we ride a certain way in the interest of our own safety.


What if gas were $10 a gallon?

An article on MSN Money Central began as follows:

...."In four years, U.S. gas prices have doubled to more than $3.70 a gallon, and crude oil has tripled to around $125 a barrel.

Allowing for inflation, that's higher than prices were during the 1978–83 oil shock that triggered a recession and sky-high interest rates.

But . . . What if gas cost $10 a gallon?

Thousands of truckers would go bankrupt. Airplanes would sit idle in hangars. Restaurants and stores would shut down. Car-pooling, hybrid vehicles, scooters and inline skates would swing into vogue."

I find it strange that the writer would mention inline skates and miss the obvious choice in human power vehicles, namely the bicycle. As for truckers going bankrupt, some will, but goods will still need to be shipped whatever the cost.

There will be rising prices and inflation, which will affect everyone; however, those who can run a tight budget and spend less on gas, will fair better. Some low-income families will not be able to run a car.

...."According to Todd Hale, a senior vice president for consumer researcher Nielsen, at $10 a gallon, the average family's gas bill would leap from 16% of its retail spending to about 40%.

People would drive less, yes. But many have to drive to work or the supermarket, and they'd cough up the cash -- screaming all the way -- and cut back elsewhere."

Yes, many will still drive and even some will still drive SUVs; they will become even more of a status symbol. There will be more compact cars or the road, and a lot more motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds.

Not everyone will ride a bicycle, but for those of us who do, share the road will be a lot easier.

Public Transport will make a comeback, which will ease congestion further. Even long before gas reaches $10, we will see less joy riding in cars on the weekends, leaving roads less congested and more pleasant for bike riding.

...."Taxis and FedEx would be strictly for the well-heeled. And home pizza deliveries would cease. Pizza delivery drivers also pay for their own gas. "It'd be brutal," says Joseph Miller, an assistant manager at a Domino's Pizza in Seattle. "I would think we wouldn't have any drivers."

Pizza can be delivered by bicycle. All kinds of restaurant food is already delivered by bicycle in New York City, and in other large cities; it is the most efficient way in many cases. In fact, as less people drive to eat out, restaurants will be forced to consider other alternatives.

In many parts of the world, Europe and Japan for example, gas is already close to $10 a gallon. People still survive, and adjust to their economies. By the time gas reaches $10 in the US, $10 will be worth a lot less in terms of what it will buy.

American consumers have been spoiled for so many years by cheap gas, welcome to the real world.

Read the complete article


Einstein letter sold at auction

A letter in which Albert Einstein dismissed the idea of God as the product of human weakness and the Bible as collection of honorable but "pretty childish" stories, has sold at auction in London for more than US $400,000.

Einstein wrote the hand written letter in German on January 3 1954 (A year before his death.) to the philosopher Eric Gutkind who had sent him a copy of his book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt.

The letter went on public sale a year later and has remained in private hands ever since.

Einstein, who was Jewish and who declined an offer to be the state of Israel's second president, also rejected the idea that the Jews are God's “Chosen” people.

He wrote, "For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups.”

Einstein’s parents were not religious but he attended a Catholic primary school and at the same time received private tuition in Judaism. This prompted what he later called, his "religious paradise of youth", during which he observed religious rules such as not eating pork. This did not last long though and by 12 he was questioning the truth of many biblical stories.

He later wrote, “The consequence was a positively fanatic [orgy of] freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression”

In his later years he referred to a "cosmic religious feeling" that permeated and sustained his scientific work. In 1954, a year before his death, he spoke of wishing to "experience the universe as a single cosmic whole". He was also fond of using religious flourishes, in 1926 declaring that "He [God] does not throw dice" when referring to randomness thrown up by quantum theory.

John Brooke of Oxford University, regarded as a leading expert on the scientist, said. “His position on God has been widely misrepresented by people on both sides of the atheism/religion divide but he always resisted easy stereotyping on the subject.

Like other great scientists he does not fit the boxes in which popular polemicists like to pigeonhole him," said Brooke. "It is clear for example that he had respect for the religious values enshrined within Judaic and Christian traditions ... but what he understood by religion was something far more subtle than what is usually meant by the word in popular discussion.”

Despite his categorical rejection of conventional religion, Brooke said that Einstein became angry when his views were appropriated by evangelists for atheism. He was offended by their lack of humility and once wrote. "The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility."


I post this piece because it is current, and because Einstein is one of my heroes. He was not only brilliant but he was “cool.” I also draw comfort from the fact that people disagreed with his views, and still do.

It serves to make me realize that if people argued with Albert Einstein, one of the greatest minds of all time, what chance do I have. A humble artisan who made a few bicycle frames.

People talk of “Reality.” What is that? You can point to the “Empire State Building” or “The Whitehouse,” and say, “That is reality.” However, when it comes to abstract things, like the mind, thinking, God, (whoever He, She, It might be.) I feel one should keep an open mind.

I think it is highly probable that people experience different realities. I do not mind that others disagree with me, but when people tell me outright I am wrong, I shake my head in amusement and say to myself, “Do you walk in my shoes, are you inside my mind, can you see what I see?”

Story USA Today
Partial translation of the letter