Saturday, August 26, 2017

"The Almighty Bicycle" (in 1896)

The Almighty Bicycle - The Most Startling, Sudden and Powerful Influence Ever Known in the History of Trade - article from the New York Journal from the summer of 1896, the height of the 1890s "bicycle craze."

The Almighty Bicycle - The Most Startling, Sudden and Powerful Influence Ever Known in the History of Trade.  (June 1896 article)
"Infographic" illustrating the growth in bicycle cycles from 1891 to 1896

From the text of the very long article:
IN all the wonder story of commerce and money dealings from the days of the Phoenicians there is no chapter so astounding as that which tells of the bicycle. A toy, it has overturned the trade of nations within the compass of five fleeting years. Serious people laughed at it and called the folk who rode it today those same serious people have recalled their capital from world-wide enterprises and started it anew In the bicycle business to save'themselves from commercial shipwreck. The whirring of these cobweb wheels has been like the spider's spinning - silent, wonderful. Fortunes have been made as if by magic.

The facts and figures are appalling. Commerce, for all its keen vision, can not read them aright. Five years ago, in this whole wide country, not 60,00Q bicycles were made or sold, and the solid, stolid business men made mock of the Mark the change. In this year of grace and pneumatic tires, four-fifths of a million of wheels be marketed in the United States alone. The leaders in the bicycle trade say that an average price for these machines us $80. Multiply. There will have been spent this year in the United States alone, for bicycles. The world is bicycle mad.

The article is quite long, but the suggestion is that the popularity of bicycles and the amount of money spent on bicycles by consumers caused a fall in other products, including from the sale of horses to cigars and jewelry.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Summer of Glass on Mt Vernon Trail

More glass Mt Vernon trail
Bits of glass from a broken bottle distributed on overpass bridge of Mt Vernon Trail near National Airport

If you click on the photo you can see a bit more of the glass, which in this image isn't that bad looking. Some days there has been quite a bit more than this.

There are three different overpass bridges on this trail near National Airport. Since the beginning of June there has been new glass appearing on one or another of these bridges at least once a week and sometimes more often. One sees cyclists pulled to the side of the trail changing flats (not surprising) as a result. It is obviously malicious since it happens over and over with the same kind of clear glass each time, spread across the trail. There are never sizable chunks of a bottle as you usually see with a broken bottle. There have been several dozen different times glass has appeared anew.

The clever aspect here is that on this part of the trail, given how the bridges are constructed, there is no place for the glass to go unless it is swept up by someone.

I have regularly sent email reporting this to the contact email on the web page for the Park Service people for the GW Parkway. Apparently they are able to send someone out to clean up much of the glass but sometimes it takes a day or two. It is quite . . . annoying. (To clarify - it is annoying that someone keeps putting broken glass on the trail, not that it may take a while for the NPS to clean it up. The NPS is not funded to sweep the trails on a daily basis!)

Quite a few cyclists don't seem to see the glass, even when it seems very noticeable to me - they go riding on through it at speed. I slow down and sometimes walk the bike through it.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Bike Parking at Nationals Ball Park & Clothing Options

Nats bike parking lot as changing station
Bikes can serve as a drying rack, but leaving this much stuff in a public parking area is an interesting notion

Also, the part where he changed his clothes made an impression on the folks managing the parking area - I asked. They of course have no guidance on what to tell such people. "Hey mister, change your clothes in privacy!" I do give him credit for having arrived even earlier than I did (this was the only bike there when I got to the park) and he tucked it back out of sight of the street at least.

The saying that when you go to a baseball game you never know what you will see is usually understood to pertain to the play on the field. Ha ha - small joke, sure.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Four Mile Run Trail Open

New observation platform along Four Mile Run (Arlington VA)
New observation platform along Four Mile Run

Part of the trail along Four Mile Run that I commute on has been closed requiring a detour. Finally the trail is open. It is somewhat odd since the barriers and signs that had closed off a portion of the trail have been removed but otherwise there is signage suggesting the detour is still in effect.

As is usually the case, since they replaced the old asphalt trail with new asphalt, the new trail is easily 18-24 inches wider than what was there before. It is crazy better than the Mount Vernon Trail that it leads to, for example.