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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 07-10-07, 12:18 PM   #1
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WWII, the golden age of bicycling

Alternet has a good article on Home-Front Ecology
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Old 07-10-07, 12:44 PM   #2
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I hope this direct link to a photo in the Library of Congress digital collection works:

The Bicycle Brigade at Lockheed

The bicycle brigade at Lockheed Vega Aircraft Corporation. Employees living within four miles of Lockheed's plant may purchase bicycles through the company and resell them to the company when need for them no longer exists. This mode of transportation is becoming increasingly popular, and has resulted in the sale of 2400 bicycles in...

The article linked by Artkansas mentions that

...there was remarkable consistency in the observation of journalists and visitors (as well as in later memoirs) that the combination of a world crisis, full employment, and mild austerity seemed to be a tonic for the American character.

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Old 07-10-07, 01:34 PM   #3
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Those days are coming again, whether we want them to or not.
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Old 07-10-07, 01:38 PM   #4
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wow, it took a world war and a real threat to the American way of Life to get people out of their cars!
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Old 07-10-07, 02:35 PM   #5
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The 40's really were a golden or silver age for bicycles, (I'd rank the bike boom of the early 1900s as the golden age). Before 1950, there where less than half the cars on the road as now, and probably only a few, if any suburbs. Only problem was back then, grown men didn't wear shorts. I seem to recall that I read about a war time rationing system for bikes during WWII.

Probably will be harder for today's citizens to adjust when the fuel prices start to climb, then it was for our parents and grandparents.

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Old 07-10-07, 02:37 PM   #6
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...Only problem was back then, grown men didn't wear shorts...
Yeah, but bikes had chainguards!
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Old 07-10-07, 07:15 PM   #7
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And wheels had fenders.
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Old 07-10-07, 07:17 PM   #8
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and bikes weighed 40-60lbs and took 400 watts to make them do 12mph

I would much rather have the neighborhoods and old towns of that era and todays bikes thank you very much
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Old 07-10-07, 07:46 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by kf5nd
Those days are coming again, whether we want them to or not.
Except for the full employment part...
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Old 07-10-07, 07:58 PM   #10
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I think it's very sad that things have gotten to such a depressing state that we now look back on a terrible world war with wistfulness.
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Old 07-10-07, 08:20 PM   #11
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I think it's very sad that things have gotten to such a depressing state that we now look back on a terrible world war with wistfulness.
True. What I'd like to see is a reawakened and reinvigorated United States coming to grips with the present day problems of the planet and everyone working together for direct solutions. Not looking too good right now, but under the right circumstance, who knows.
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Old 07-10-07, 08:23 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Cosmoline
And wheels had fenders.
Still do at my house

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Old 07-10-07, 08:52 PM   #13
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Except for the full employment part...
There may not be the employment doom and gloom that so many people will think will come with the oil bust, in fact employment may actually increase. Just like jobs are different now then they were in the 1950's, they may be different in again in the 2050's. One of the big benefits during the oil boom, was that you could move manufacturing and processing to where labour was cheap, and ship the end product. However before the oil boom, you tended to produce goods close to the point of consumption, because shipping those goods was expensive. Now you tend to produce goods where labour is cheapest, sometimes half a planet away from the point of consumption. I expect after the oil bust, many companies will be interested in moving production close to the point of consumption again.

For example in 1900 if you bought a table and chairs, it was made of locally grown and milled Maple, Pine and Oak. Now the wood is shipped from South America to China, milled and assembled, then shipped to the US for consumption. I expect by 2100 it will be locally made of locally available wood again.

One of the issues, is that it's not we have 100% of the demand covered by supply one day, and 0% of demand covered by supply, the next. It's more like we have capacity to cover 105% of demand today, 104% next month, 103% the next month, etc. The sticking point is when you hit 99%, the price goes up, and some users fall off the radar, first off the radar is poor countries with no domestic supply, as they will not be able to afford the new, higher, import prices. This will attenuate demand partly, and slow down the process, but with supply steadily dropping, the process will continue, prices will bump up again, and some more countries (and people) will stop buying. In countries like the US and Canada, this will put pressure on transit organizations, to add more service, low and no fuel use vehicles will also see a surge in demand. Expect one of the US automakers to add motorcycles and scooters to their product lines, at some point. Manufacturers will start to do more work domestically, as the costs of shipping goods long distances gets too expensive. This is already partially the case with Import Automobiles, where the parts come from Japan, and are assembled in North America, because it's too expensive to ship the air inside the finished vehicle.
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Old 07-11-07, 12:04 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by pedex
and bikes weighed 40-60lbs and took 400 watts to make them do 12mph

I would much rather have the neighborhoods and old towns of that era and todays bikes thank you very much
Don't underestimate those old cruisers. They're heavy, but well built and a lot of fun to ride. Fitted steel frames were standard, and unlike 99% of today's bikes (at least in the US), they were made for utility work not just goofing on the weekends.

Remember, folks back then not only rode bikes during the war, they WENT to war on bikes. The elite bicycle troops in the European theater were no joke. They could cross through rough terrain fast and quick, with no need for gasoline or driveable roads.
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Old 07-11-07, 02:33 PM   #15
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fun to ride? maybe for just putzing around but if I had to ride one of those tanks everyday to sling packages I'd be way more tired and slower than I already am, no thanks, my 17lb track bike does an excellent job and its inexpensive and reliable
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Old 07-11-07, 07:30 PM   #16
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I rode a big steel three speed around all last year. It's great! The weight lowers the center of gravity, and you're extremely stable. Plus the bike itself is stronger and can carry more cargo.
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Old 07-11-07, 07:39 PM   #17
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stability isnt a problem, I rode a SS mtb for awhile, very similar to one of these cruiser bikes, it was heavy, slow as hell, and tiring, even with a 44/15 gear it was still slow as hell

I can't ride in traffic on a tank of bike, cars downtown typically do 18-22mph when traffic is light, and im not gonna putter along in the gutter or on the sidewalk.
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Old 07-11-07, 07:48 PM   #18
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I can't ride in traffic on a tank of bike, cars downtown typically do 18-22mph when traffic is light, and im not gonna putter along in the gutter or on the sidewalk.
I do that regularly on my MTB commuter in traffic.
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Old 07-11-07, 08:13 PM   #19
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I do that regularly on my MTB commuter in traffic.
I don't, its much easier to ride fast in the traffic, makes doing things like crossing over 5 lanes much much easier when you can just weave right on thru the cars cause your going as fast or faster than they are. Thats one of the things that makes riding a bike great downtown, you own the street if you want to. Cars give you mucho respect and let you do whatever you want when your right there among them keeping up with or passing them. Most of the time it isn't too hard just to take a lane and ride with them. Out in the burbs this doesn't work too well cause they can go too fast, in the city its a different story.
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Old 07-11-07, 08:15 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Wogsterca
There may not be the employment doom and gloom that so many people will think will come with the oil bust, in fact employment may actually increase. Just like jobs are different now then they were in the 1950's, they may be different in again in the 2050's. One of the big benefits during the oil boom, was that you could move manufacturing and processing to where labour was cheap, and ship the end product. However before the oil boom, you tended to produce goods close to the point of consumption, because shipping those goods was expensive. Now you tend to produce goods where labour is cheapest, sometimes half a planet away from the point of consumption. I expect after the oil bust, many companies will be interested in moving production close to the point of consumption again.

For example in 1900 if you bought a table and chairs, it was made of locally grown and milled Maple, Pine and Oak. Now the wood is shipped from South America to China, milled and assembled, then shipped to the US for consumption. I expect by 2100 it will be locally made of locally available wood again.
Good one.

I posted in another thread that should we run out of oil, life will return back to what it was in 1907. If you look at microfilm in the library, you'll see a booming society in the middle of an industrial revolution. There was almost full employment as jobs were plentiful and abundant.

I did not see any human suffering from the lack of transportation. None at all. The Iron horse provided more than enough transportation needs and everyone lived by train schedules. The motorcar has bankrupted the American public and made them personal debtors for life due to the high cost of personal transportation. It also bankrupted our nation as we run record trade deficits each year with nations that would rather see this country fall.
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Old 07-11-07, 11:50 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by pedex
fun to ride? maybe for just putzing around but if I had to ride one of those tanks everyday to sling packages I'd be way more tired and slower than I already am, no thanks, my 17lb track bike does an excellent job and its inexpensive and reliable
Man. We never would have beat Hitler with that attitude.
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Old 07-12-07, 03:33 AM   #22
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Good one.

I posted in another thread that should we run out of oil, life will return back to what it was in 1907. If you look at microfilm in the library, you'll see a booming society in the middle of an industrial revolution. There was almost full employment as jobs were plentiful and abundant.

I did not see any human suffering from the lack of transportation. None at all. The Iron horse provided more than enough transportation needs and everyone lived by train schedules. The motorcar has bankrupted the American public and made them personal debtors for life due to the high cost of personal transportation. It also bankrupted our nation as we run record trade deficits each year with nations that would rather see this country fall.
I do agree with wogstera's post...for the most part, and yours. BUT there is going to be fall out with the transition from today to the future. The last one to get us where we are today wasn't painless, look at all the jobs that have been lost to off shore manufacturing. Many of those people have never recovered financially from that. Maybe I a a pessimistic optimist but I don't see it being a seamless transition. Too many people today live an unsustainable lifestyle in any terms and any little thing like increased fuel costs, having to move, a drop in the value of their house, etc is going to bring the whole house of cards down for them and others just like them. What happens to all the people that are living in secluded areas with no manufacturing base? If and when manufacturers start up again I don't think it is going to be in an area with a house per acre, not enough employees.

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Old 07-12-07, 05:19 AM   #23
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Man. We never would have beat Hitler with that attitude.

oh please, give me a freakin break

nostalgia is great and everything, but face the fact that even the minor advances in bike tech has made an enormous difference, what? you want wooden wheels back and nothing but 80lb iron framed fixed gears? ride a 60lb tank if you want, I don't care, but I won't, they aren't fun for anything but puttering around on
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Old 07-12-07, 06:42 AM   #24
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and bikes weighed 40-60lbs and took 400 watts to make them do 12mph

I would much rather have the neighborhoods and old towns of that era and todays bikes thank you very much
No they didn't. Furthermore, they were vastly better than today's bikes for short range transportation, and particularly for moving heavy loads. No fenders, no chainguard, no rack, tires that flat repeatedly, and and expectation that every rider should be a Boy Mechanic -- most modern bikes are weekend playtoys. Although the performance is better, everything that makes a bike practical and convenient
has been systematically eliminated. Who the hell would ever ride a bike to work if a car were easier and more convenient?

The English 3 speeds were an improvement, of course, offering better perfornmance with no sacrifice in practicality. Personally, I feel that the Golden Age was the 1960s -- just before the Bike Boom.

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Old 07-12-07, 07:11 AM   #25
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What Paul says...
I am planning on the Red one with the Wald newspaper boy baskets front and rear.
Aaron
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ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

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RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
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"Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
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