Different but the same: Microwaves, Smartphones, iPads and Biking?

The last few weeks have been filled with a lot of soul-searching in my life.  I’ve been in one of those reflective periods constantly evaluating decisions and my life’s chosen course.  This has led me to contemplate the natural progression of things, all things.  Not just life progression because that is way too complicated for this blog but the staple aspects and items in our lives like TVs, computers, microwaves and cars.  Each of these things has followed a determined path from a novelty or luxury plaything to an ideological norm.  Each was once laughed at by society at large and considered interesting but not at all necessary.  Until it became obvious that each solved a distinct problem.

The iPad is yet another technological step forward, but only time will tell if this novelty/luxury plaything will prove to solve a distinct problem.  Personally, I don’t see it!  But in some cases logic is out and you can’t see but feel it.  I may not have seen the “smart phone” explosion but I could feel it and knew I wanted one like everyone else.  Perhaps the iPad will go this route. I hope so because then I’m definitely getting one!

But my point here is vastly different.  I’m interested in the natural progression of living CarFree and/or biking. I read an article yesterday about the demographics of the growing bike community and how it is distinctly males between 25-45 that have taken to riding bikes.  I understand that in order for biking to become mainstream and foster widespread adoption on par with these aforementioned items the community must expand to include everyone.

In looking at the natural progression of these things through my limited personal lens, I’m encouraged by this explosion of biking among males 25-45.  Perhaps biking is finally on similar path to mainstream acceptance taken by other once thought unnecessary maybe even silly items.  Traditionally, the early adopters on anything new are males 25-45.  Who was the first to buy cars, microwaves, computers, smartphones and how many iPads are owned by 25-45 year old men?

As a member of this demographic group, I may have some insight into why we tend to lead the charge.  Beyond the more substantial reasons like lack of responsibility and disposable income is the idea that we can be a little bit stupid and self-interested.  We all want to have the newest toy in the sandbox and be the center of attention of our peers.  This desire allows us to be a little bit stupid in the pursuit of the toy.  On more than one occasion I have uttered the phrase “it’s really expensive and I can’t really afford it, but it’s SO cool.  I’ve gotta’ get it.”

Don’t get me wrong, biking is not the new technology and comparing it to an iPad is asinine but perhaps it has already taken hold as a trend among this leading demographic of silly things.  The next step is for the trend to sustain and grow by solving a problem/problems we all face.  Maybe that problem will be rising gas prices, personal fitness or (the long shot) climate change.  For me it’s a little bit of all those things and more.

Those of us the live Carfree or just support the idea need to determine exactly what problems biking solves and make sure everyone knows about them.  Sometimes, the most success is had by solving a problem people didn’t even know they had!


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