Monday, January 21, 2013

Bicycle Path

Who knew that a number of early automobile manufacturers were first bicycle manufacturers – Opel, Peugeot, Humber, Morris, Rover, Rambler, Willy’s and others? They pioneered advances in steel-tube framing, ball bearings, chain drives, differential gearing, and the pneumatic tire. They also developed techniques and equipment for volume production that became essential for the volume production of motor vehicles.

“Apart from its impact on road improvement in the United States, no preceding technological innovation – not even the internal combustion engine – was as important to the development of the automobile as the bicycle.”

“The greatest contribution of the bicycle, however, was that it created an enormous demand for individualized, long-distance transportation that could only be satisfied by the mass adoption of motor vehicles.”

James J. Flink, Professor of Comparative Culture at UC Irvine, writing in his book the Automobile Age, back in the Dark Ages of 1988.

Wow, hear that urban enviros? The grandfathers of your spiffy high-end bicycles spurred the growth of the automobile and the three-car American garage. You might need to be careful what you wish for when the Laws of Unintended Consequences are loose in the world.