Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cyclists Voters Ordain

Presidents are surprising advocates of cycling considering they must always be surrounded by secret service agents. John Fitzgerald Kennedy said, “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.” Can’t imagine crippled dealer FDR or purple heart recipient JFK ever pedaling. Eisenhower, Johnson and Truman may have, but haven’t seen any proof. However, Eisenhower Park in Hempstead, NY has a 5-mile road biking loop. Eisenhower State Park in Denison, TX has a mountain biking track. Eisenhower himself spurred a huge expanse of pavement, particularly interstate highways, that got his name on parks and roads and, yay, separated cyclists from speeding motorists. Harry S Truman Lake in Warsaw, MO features a mountain bike park with 20 miles of trails. There’s a Hoover Trail in West Branch, IA, the Depression President’s home town. They put in a parking protected bikeway next to JFK Drive at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, CA, but not without controversy.

Before Lincoln's term (1850’s), bicycles weren’t available; could imagine rail splitting Lincoln or rough riding Roosevelt giving bicycles a try, but not arrogant Grant, frail Hayes, nor stout Cleveland. From assassinated Abe to murdered McKinley, unpaved roads hardly permitted horse drawn carriages, never mind honest bikes and horseless buggies. Presiding over the first bike boom in 1918 was Harding, whose nieces and nephews remember kindly as Uncle Warren who taught them to ride, not the scandalous lothario posterity depicts. Way more historical details are presented in Michael Wagner's blog.

Pictured, in order of their presidencies, are the 37th to the 44th (years in office and comments) enjoying bicycles at some time in their lives: Richard Milhous Nixon (1969-1974, family outing in D.C.), Gerald Rudolph Ford (1974-1977, as a child), James Earl Carter, Jr. (1977-1981), Ronald Wilson Reagan (1981-1989, tandem actor), George Herbert Walker Bush (1989-1993, while visiting Beijing), William Jefferson Clinton (1993-2001, receiving a bike from Lance Armstrong), George Walker Bush (2001-2009, mountain biking during countless Texas vacations), Barack Hussein Obama (2009-present, during a recent vacation on Martha’s Vineyard). [All images repeated from internet sources; click to enlarge.]

Enough about political leaders. How about the late Soichiro Honda, founder and president of Honda Motor Company? To Labann’s knowledge, he’s the only modern automotive CEO to establish a career by working on bicycles in his father’s shop. Honda, shown with a bike upon which he slapped a motor, was also the first Japanese maker to assemble cars in the United States. Ford built where he sold, too, successfully. This year, the most popular vehicle in America of any type is the fuel efficient Honda Accord LX sedan. Can identify with Honda’s curious policy of waigaya, loosely translated as “blah blah blah” or "brainstorming", which solicits commentary from everyone involved so as to explore all possibilities for quality improvements. It’s precisely the invitation to dialog that Bike&Chain was built upon.

It’s unfinished logic was supposed to draw readers own comments, rather than simply disengage. Different shards of reason wind up in individuals. The collective unconscious requires billions of viewpoints to exist and sustain itself. It's akin to biodiversity, where all pieces of an ecosystem are necessary as long as they stay in balance. How they know, what they feel, why feeling surpasses knowing for most humans are all intrinsic to the B&C experience. Was intended to be participatory, reaching out singly to stimulate responding publicly, and set up so readers could access at any point and still become immersed, with arc but no causality, unlike most linear narratives. Might be confrontational when an author eager for conversation suggests reading a big damn experimental book. Although many influences shape progress, only your own position and what you made of it matters in the end. Only then will anybody realize it has the smallest merit, if only an ancient signpost stuck at an intersection pointing to a destination that no longer exists.

Commitment goads action. Indecision yields mediocrity. Does perpetually conflicted negate advancement? No. All action occurs before results can be evaluated. Struggles writhe around indeterminate possibilities. Inaction can impact just as much as action. History determines results and provokes change, not participants or presidents whose job is only to choose and do. You prevent through planning, though proactive planners seldom consider all contingencies. Only artists concern themselves with rare imagination and remote chances. Heads of state just inherit situations and suggest directions. Blame ambitious demagogues in Congress for unintended consequences of badly written laws.

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