12 April 2009

Complication and Simplicity


Overcomplicating a simple issue.
William sent us this the other day. The Science and Fear of Repairing a Tube.
"Thought this would amuse you. Lord help anyone trying to mend a puncture from these instructions, from a Blackspur puncture repair kit."


William added this piece from an article, asking the question: "Haven't they heard of bicycles?!"

General Motors Corp. is teaming with Segway Inc., maker of the upright, self-balancing scooters, to build a new type of two-wheeled vehicle designed to move easily through congested urban streets. The machine, which GM says it aims to develop by 2012, would run on batteries and use wireless technology to avoid traffic backups and navigate cities.

Funny... I've been moving easily through congested urban streets for years, in cities all around the world, on a bicycle. And by the looks of that machine, I'll stick to my bicycle. Although fat, lazy people will probably love it.


Simplicity. The cover of a Danish childrens book from 1968. Lars Peter's Bicycle.

"On his 6th birthday, Lars Peter gets a new bicycle. On the very same day he meets different people who tell him about the history of the bicycle - and he also learns to ride his own."

Wonderful. The fearmongerers begone.

13 comments:

anna said...

Ha, I've seen that Segway type of thing in newspapers in Austria too. And that was exactly my first thought - a rather complicated reconstruction of a bicycle ;-).

lagatta à montréal said...

I fail to see any advantage over a bicycle (or adult tricycle for people, often elderly, with balance problems). While non-lazy fat or somewhat pudgy - or average - people would look forward to a vehicle that runs on calories and counteracts the damage caused by modern sedentary life, while not putting undue stress on joints.

But as you say, all the emphasis on "kit" and lycra discourages people who need gentle exercise from getting it.

Brent said...

With the PUMA, the old saying comes to mind: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." It's a perplexing device -- half bike, half motorcycle, expensive, and not especially practical -- but if somehow it becomes popular, and many people take to it, my life as a cyclist will become much easier. PUMA drivers would want the same kinds of roads as I do, and have the same general safety concerns. They represent a path away from cars and towards small, quiet mobility devices, and with enough of them on the road, the bicycle becomes a prince.

Gorka said...

I thought that vehicle had already been invented. It is called an electric wheelchair.

Son of Shaft said...

When I first saw a picture of that segway thing I immediately thought of those fat people carting around in Wall-E. Had to laugh and could only think of how much cheaper a decent bike is/will be.

Cargo Cult said...

Hang on, isn't that guy supposed to be wearing a helmet?

Anonymous said...

No matter how much you try to ram cycling culture down people's throats, you are going to have to face up to the fact that not everybody is going to swallow it. As a cyclist, no I wouldn't buy one, but as I cyclist, I would much rather share the roads with zero-emission, slow moving, quiet electric scooter type things than large, fast moving, polluting cars. It is not designed to get people off their bikes, it is designed to get people out of their cars. Seems like a good thing to me.

Adrienne Johnson said...

I have more than one patient who would benefit from something like that, greatly- those with legs weakened by neurological complaints (they would not be able to use a trike, but something like this, maybe), those with heart conditions that do not allow for strenuous exercise, those with limited upper extremity strength who would not be able to steer a pedal powered machine... for those who have the ability to ride a bicycle, this would be kind of silly, but for many others (who are not 'fat and lazy' but simply unable to ride) something like this could provide them with a means of transportation that is less polluting and more enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

The PUMA will be the brunt of jokes years from now. Imagine what happens when one of those little front balancing wheels fail just when needed. An over-investment in junk will not help those who can't ride a bike, they already have many types of wheel chairs (even with three wheels) to chose from.

Does anyone believe countries can afford to build new infrastructure for such devices? Change zoning codes, bring back the corner grocery store and give us our Complete Streets.
Jack

John the Monkey said...

Bicycle Design has an interesting post on the P.U.M.A. - not sure I agree with all of it, but it is an alternative point of view at least.

http://bicycledesign.blogspot.com/2009/04/gm-segway-puma.html

Car companies are notoriously bad at designing "alternative" transport, imo. A quick look at bicycles carrying their names (there have been a couple) will tell anyone that.

townmouse said...

There have been mobility scooters for years for people with disabilities. This takes the faint effort out of the Segway - the need to actively balance and stand - and basically creates a motorised wheelchair for able-bodied people. If that's what some people need to get themselves out of their cars then sorry, but we're doomed as a species.

lagatta à montréal said...

Adrienne, I saw a man yesterday riding a motorised wheelchair scooter with a roof and windscreen that looked very much like the little vehicle shown in the post. Indeed not all disabled or cardiac people can use an adult tricycle or hand-pedalled cycle, though it is great for their health (aerobic exercise) if they can.

Glenn said...

My first bike looked almost exactly like the one on the cover of the children's book. But mine had a basket on the front instead of the rear rack. Those were happier days...

Glenn