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Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Bicycle

Really this is just an extension of the wheel, but it has had such a huge impact on how we get around that I feel it should be mentioned. Effectively the bike brought freedom to everyone to go much further than they were accustomed. The average walking speed of about 3.5 mph increased to 12 or 13 even on the heaviest old-fashioned machine, (although not quite so much on the penny-farthing in the picture !) whilst today's lighter bikes are easier to go faster on and give a wider range. Personally I find that, even at 71 years old, I can quite easily manage a 40 mile ride - as long as I don't hurry and have plenty to drink - whereas walking, well ten miles is pushing it. So imagine if you didn't have a car how much more freedom a bike could give you. I remember as a kid when we lived in the country near Stratford-upon-Avon my dad bought me one and it was the doorway to places I'd only ever been driven through. Magic ! Then bear in mind the poorer countries in the world where almost everyone seems to have a bike. And go to Oxford or Cambridge and see the numbers there. A great way to travel, especially in the city (when it's not raining !).


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