Saturday, June 07, 2008

Overlooking the Obvious

Recently I read about a stunning discovery archaeologists made when they un-earthed a toy from a pre-Columbian American civilization. The toy was a simple wheel. This finding was shocking because despite the many accomplishments of the Mayans, they never seemed to have used the wheel. Apparently they did discover it, but never saw any potential for it other than a child's toy.

Today we have a mode of transportation that requires about 100 times less material to produce than a car, produces about 100 times less CO2 emissions than a car, requires over 10 times less road surface area and parking spaces than a car, burns no non-renewable fuel, and in urban areas often allows people to get from place to place faster than a car would allow. However, few people use this mode of transportation because most people view it simply as a child's toy. Of course, I'm talking about the bicycle.

In addition to the above benefits, bicycles are incredibly affordable and easy to maintain and repair when they break down. They are far safer than automobiles (ignoring, of course, the dangers posed to cyclists BY automobiles). They promote excellent fitness habits and would certainly reverse the rising rates of heart disease and obesity in the US if their use became widespread.

The Mayans have the excuse of living in hilly terrain that might have made wheels impractical. What's our excuse?



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