Salient White Elephant

May 5, 2009

Powered Bicycles in the City

Filed under: Brash Environmental Commentary, Electric Vehicle (EV), green technology — Salient White Elephant @ 6:41 pm

Soft, pastel colored cotton ropes move through the city driven by pulley wheels. If you get tired of pedaling, you just grab on to the rope and it pulls you along. This would be particularly useful in places like San Francisco where lots of people want to ride a bike, but the hills are just too steep. A person could pedal on the level areas, coast downhill, and hold the rope to go up hill.

Of course, you don’t actually grab hold of a rope, because that would make it hard to balance. There’s a mechanical device that is easily flipped over that grabs the rope and transfers the force in a way that doesn’t throw you off balance. And this also allows you to have both hands on the handlebars.

One of the nicest things about China was its bicycle transportation system. Of course, I don’t guess there’s much left of it now, thanks to the magic of capitalism and its ability to turn every corner of life into the dullest and most discouraging of chores. I believe this is what Adam Smith was referring to when he coined the phrase “the invisible butt of the free market economy”. But let me tell you something – you haven’t lived until you’ve traveled to your destination anywhere in the city alongside young girls that just stepped out of a fashion magazine and wise old leather-skinned men and women with impenetrable facial expressions that have seen hardships you can’t imagine… everybody cruising along at about 15 miles per hour, no diesel smoke stinging your nostrils, birds chirping, and the nicest widest bike path you can imagine meandering through the city. There wasn’t a road you needed to travel that didn’t have one of these cadillac bike paths, for in 1990s China, the bicycle was the mode of transportation, and everything else had to get out of the way. And as for those wise old men and women and the emotional burdens of past hardship they carried, seems like most of them usually had the most calm and content aura, impenetrable though it was. How could that be? I don’t know, but I think it had something to do with the magic of riding a bicycle, the healthy bodies that bike riding produced (you couldn’t find an obese person in China in those days), the chirping birds, and most of all, the fact that you were king of the road.

… old stogies I have found,

shooooort, and not to big around I’m a…

maaaaan o means by no means,

King o the Roooad!

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