Bicycles…and airplanes

“Society is singularly in debt to the bicycle, since bicycle mechanics developed the airplane as well as the automobile.”

James E Starrs, The Noiseless Tenor

Did you know? Several of the developers of the automobile and the airplane were “wrenches.” Rudolf Egg, Edward Butler, Léon Bollée. Peugeot. Charles and Frank Duryea. The Wright brothers and Charlie Taylor. Glenn Curtis. Surely the automobile and the airplane would have been invented anyway, but the work of bicycle mechanics began the era of motorized transportation. These innovators brought their skill sets to the question of flight, and brought us into the skies.

It’s interesting that we find ourselves in the 21st century with many looking to bicycles again, but for different reasons than those of its developers in the 19th century. Today’s reasons? Transportation, surely. But for many, it’s the joy brought about during a bike ride. Or for the exercise: an excellent cardiovascular workout – with whatever intensity the rider wishes, from leisurely family rides to HIIT training and bicycle racing. Or because it’s WAY less expensive than owning a car. Statistics show that most vehicle trips are just a few miles long: the perfect situation for using a bike.

Or for the environment. Little “carbon footprint.” No burning of fuel (except what the rider has eaten!). Less congestion on crowded roadways. And the pleasure. Behind it all is the sheer joy of a bike ride. The sights, the sounds, the smells; a real experience of the journey, instead of the closed-in space of the four-wheeled box in which we typically travel.

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