This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 at 4:41 pm and is filed under Bicycle history. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Thanks to volcanic explosions in Iceland, much of Europe has been an aviation-free zone for nearly a week, showing what ash can do to transport.
A larger volcanic episode in 1815 might also have had an impact on transport: it might have been the impetus for the creation of the bicycle.
In 1815, the ash from the eruption of Mount Tambora on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia, led to a change in global weather. 1816 was ‘the year without summer’ in which severe summer climate abnormalities destroyed crops in Northern Europe and North America.
The shortage of oats meant less food for horses. In Germany, Baron Karl von Drais started his search for a form of transport that didn’t rely on oats. By the following year he had created a horse-substitute, one that did not rely on oats. His Draisine ‘running machine’ was the start of the modern bicycle. It morphed into the ‘hobby horse’ which took another fifty years for pedals, brakes and a diamond steel frame to evolve into what we would recognise as a bicycle. But, without Mount Tambora’s ash, Baron von Drais might have got his oats and kept to an equestrian mount.