another cycling forum

  => Freewheeling => Topic started by: sam on July 02, 2010

Title: Traffic
Post by: sam on July 02, 2010

from the book: (

The larger the cities grew, and the more ways people devised to get around those cities, the more complicated traffic became, and the more difficult to manage. Take, for instance, the scene that occurred on lower Broadway in New York City on the afternoon of December 23, 1879, an "extraordinary and unprecedented blockade of traffic" that lasted five hours. Who was in this "nondescript jam," as the New York Times called it? The list is staggering: "single and double teams, double teams with a tandem leader, and four-horse teams; hacks, coupes, trucks, drays, butcher carts, passenger stages, express wagons, grocers' and hucksters' wagons, two-wheeled 'dog carts', furniture carts and piano trucks, and jewelers' and fancy goods dealers' light delivery wagons, and two or three advertising vans, with flimsy transparent canvas sides to show illumination at night."

Just when it seemed as if things could not get more complicated on the road, along came a novel and controversial machine, the first new form of personal transportation since the days of Caesar's Rome, a new-fangled contrivance that upset the fragile balance of traffic. I am talking, of course, about the bicycle.

After a couple of false starts, the "bicycle boom" of the late nineteenth century created a social furor. Bicycles were too fast. They threatened their riders with strange ailments, like kyphosis bicyclistarum, or "bicycle stoop." They spooked horses and caused accidents. Fisticuffs were exchanged between cyclists and noncyclists. Cities tried to ban them outright. They were restricted from streets because they were not coaches, and restricted from sidewalks because they were not pedestrians. The bicycle activists of today who argue that cars should not be allowed in places like Brooklyn's Prospect Park were preceded, over a hundred years ago, by "wheelmen" fighting for the right for bicycles to be allowed in that same park. New bicycle etiquette questions were broached: Should men yield the right-of-way to women?

There is a pattern here, from the chariot in Pompeii to the Segway in Seattle. Once humans decided to do anything but walk, once they became "traffic," they had to learn a whole new way of getting around and getting along. What is the road for? Who is the road for? How will these streams of traffic flow together? Before the dust kicked up by the bicycles had even settled, the whole order was toppled again by the auto-mobile, which was beginning to careen down those same "good roads" the cyclists themselves, in a bit of tragic irony, had helped create.
Title: think of the parents thinking of the children
Post by: sam on July 07, 2010
Add backpack stoop to bicycle stoop and these kids ( are going to have trouble seeing over the handlebars.

I suppose everybody over a certain age has a tale of going to and from school unaccompanied as if it were the natural order of things. Hell, when I was 6 years old I broke my arm on some playground equipment and walked home alone, clearly placing little faith in my teacher to sort it. But this was the 70s, when children were routinely fed lead paint chips to add roughage to their diet.