browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

Breaking: Noted Pontificator Thinks This Whole Bicycle Thing Just Might Catch On

Posted by on May 11, 2017
The history of the bicycle is long and zany, as this amazing video shows:

Indeed, it's been a winding and treacherous road from those completely zany and borderline useless old dandy horses to the optimal balance of zaniness and practicality that characterizes (most of) the bicycles we ride today.

Given this long history, it's hard to think of the bicycle as "disruptive," but that's exactly how one smartypants characterizes it:

"Bikes have a tremendous disruptive advantage over cars. Bikes will eat cars," Dediu told CNNTech, referencing investor Marc Andreessen's seminal 2011 argument that software-driven businesses are dominating the world.

I think most sensible people would agree that, when it comes to personal vehicles in cities, bicycles have a lot more long-term viability than cars.  However, saying they're "disruptive" seems a little strange.  After all, bicycles "disrupted" the world well over a hundred years ago when they compelled municipalities to pave the roads.  Efficient and adaptable, bicycles were here before the cars took over, and they'll still be here when the idea of car ownership is obsolete.  Given this, as cyclists we're not so much "disruptors" as we are little furry rodents, scampering about resourcefully and flourishing regardless of whatever giant lumbering creature is squandering its temporary dominance at the time.

But while bikes and the riding of them have been around for a long time, bike share is pretty new, and I do think it's pretty fair to say that's "disruptive."  (That is if you're the kind of person who insists on using that term.)  And in addition to helping us get around, Smartypants thinks bike share bikes will also serve as little data collection probes:

Bikeshare bikes of the future, according to Dediu, will be outfitted with cameras and sensors, collecting valuable data for cities. When a cyclist rides over a pothole, it can be automatically reported to a city. Cameras on the bicycle will provide real-time data, such as pedestrian traffic and pollution. Google Street View will look like an antique compared to near real-time imagery collected from bikeshare cameras.  

The bikes will need to be carefully constructed so that the cameras and sensors aren't easily broken during use.

Well it's certainly an interesting thought.  I could certainly get behind the idea of bikeshare bikes that capture bike lane blocking, reckless driving, and other bad driver behavior.  The downside of course would be if the camera also ratted you out for rolling a red light or something, but maybe that won't be a problem with the Bicycle Traffic Lights of the Future:

Sadly it's unlikely we'll ever see any of this stuff happen here in Canada's saddlebag since it goes against our policy of punishing cyclists for not driving cars.

But try as they might to keep cyclists down they can't argue with physics.  For example, did you know that bikes are portable but cars aren't?

Bikes' flexible nature will aid their popularity. You can park a bicycle in your home or your office. A bike can be carried on a bus, car or train. A car doesn't offer this versatility. A similar case of disruption played out with cameras, as the always-in-your-pocket nature of smartphones helped them leave traditional cameras in the dust.

Yep, that's right, you read it here first: you can't carry a Hyundai onto a train.

Anyway, besides bike share, Smartypants says the other "disruptor" will be ebikes, which makes sense:

While the speed edge seen in New York today doesn't hold up in every city, it will likely change as electric bicycles emerge. Electric bikes -- whose motors generally top out at 20 mph -- will attract customers because they don't have to worry about breaking a sweat, struggling to climb a hill or keeping up with traffic.

"When you get on an electric bike, what we witnessed is a lot of those anxieties are calmed," said Elliott McFadden, executive director of the Austin B-Cycle, the city's bikeshare program. It recently surveyed citizens' interest in electric bikes.

You have to figure if the NYPD is cracking down on something that's usually a good indicator that it's a useful technology that will ultimately benefit humankind:

And Smartypants's vision of the future doesn't stop there, because after ebikes the next phase of disruption will be bikes with roofs:

As Dediu sees it, first the disruptive technology arrives, then the suitable environment follows. Early roads weren't smooth enough for the first cars. Early cellular networks couldn't handle smartphone data. But with time, the world adapted to fit the promising technology. Bike lanes are already growing worldwide.

And then there's weather. Riding in the rain or snow is unpleasant. Dediu notes that the first cars and planes were open air vehicles. But they morphed into cocoons. Dediu expects bikes will follow a similar evolution.

And there's your PodRide:

I have seen the future, and it looks like a giant shoe.

Lastly, reviews of the new Cipollini are in, and you'll be pleased to know it's got a "massive bottom bracket sheel and taut front end:"

Plenty of aero-style bikes feel fast once you’re over the 20mph hump, but the neat trick with the NK1K is that it feels lightning quick from a standing start. The solidity through the massive bottom bracket shell and taut front end make for a truly exciting bike under acceleration.

I'd expect nothing less.

Comments are closed.