It seems that our lives have become intertwined with bicycles, more often by chance than by design. Not that I’m complaining – as H.G.Wells put it: ‘When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the human race’. First we came across the Wright Brothers’ Cycle Works in Dayton, (completely unplanned) and now as we get to Pittsburgh we discover to our joy that the Carnegie Science Centre is hosting a fabulous exhibition called ‘Bike: Science on two wheels’, how could we resist?!
The science part was very interesting – lots of interactive things to explain how the bike works – these were mainly designed for the kids, but since I like to think of myself as ‘down there with the kids’ (a UK phrase used to suggest ‘being cool’), I joined in too. However, the main attraction was the amazing collection of bikes on display – or as we could call it: ‘bike porn’! From the very earliest velocipede (a bike with no pedals that you’d wheel along with your feet) and penny farthings right through to the most up-to-date bikes. The collection includes a Singer Tricycle made in Coventry – fancy coming all this way to find a bike made in my home city?!
I was quite taken by the collection of bike posters on display, some of which I’d never seen before. Some may think that the World War II propaganda poster image of Hitler sitting next to someone in their car with the caption ‘When you drive a car you drive with Hitler – Ride Your Bicycle Today!’ a bit harsh – but not Mike! I think this image will be appearing in an office at Bath Spa University soon – perhaps it might even become the University moto for their green travel plan! Pittsburgh has certainly earned itself a gold star with this exhibition, as the logo on the exhibition information boards put it, we were in ‘bicycle heaven’.