The Future of the Automobile, 1902

The following was published in Harper's Weekly. I found a reprint of it in one of my old books.



FUTURE OF THE AUTOMOBILE
In less than fifty years from now the working man, the mechanic and the laborer will go to their work from their cottages in the country in automobiles.
You smile at this? Don't smile too confidently. Do you remember when the present model of bicycles first came into fashion? Who used and paid for the first bicycles; at one hundred dollars or more each? The rich men and women.
Who made fun of the first bicycle riders, laughing at their sensible costumes, throwing tacks on bicycle paths, doing everything to delay the manufacture of the cheap bicycle by discouraging those who paid for the first experiments? You did, you who now laugh, or throw tin cans at the fast automobile did the same for the bicycle, not so many years ago.
And who uses the bicycle now? Get up early in the morning, especially in the country, and you will see the bicycle carrying the mechanic to his work. The cheap bicycle is almost exclusively used by working men. It is used exclusively by people of moderate means. The rich have long since tired of it. The bicycle at Newport used to fill the foolish "society" columns. It now carries the butcher boy to and from work. It enables the workman to save his carfare, to get cheaper rent and fresh country air for his children by living far from his task. It gives these advantages, in addition to fresh air and daily exercise to thousands of clerks with small salaries.
Suppose that public jeering, sprinkling of tacks, etc. had prevented the
development of the bicycle. The rich would simply have been deprived of one toy. They would never have missed it. The great loss would have fallen upon the poor, to whom the bicycle now offers many economical advantages, and their sole chance of reaching the country and of knowing nature's beauties.

Harpers Weekly 1902

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