Promoting her new book “The Mechanical Horse: How the Bicycle Reshaped American Life,” author & teacher Margaret Guroff recently gave a presentation for Talks at Google. Watch the video below to get a sample of the contents of her book, ranging from some of the incremental evolutionary developments in bicycle design which overlapped with fashion (and even feminism), to some of the more profound impacts of the bicycle on the American body politic.
“The Mechanical Horse” reveals how the bicycle transformed American life. As bicycling caught on in the nineteenth century, many of the country’s rough, rutted roads were paved for the first time, laying a foundation for the interstate highway system. Cyclists were among the first to see the possibilities of self-directed, long-distance travel, and some of them (including Henry Ford) went on to develop the automobile. Women shed their cumbersome Victorian dresses—as well as their restricted gender roles—so they could ride. And doctors recognized that aerobic exercise actually benefits the body, which helped to modernize medicine.