Have you ever noticed that as you get nearer to any major university, or anywhere that progressives tend to gather in numbers, you see more and more wheeled contraptions like the one pictured above? It’s not that I have anything against bicycles mind you. I used to commute on one regularly when I lived in the city and they can be a fine alternative in getting to and from places when faced with the traffic grid lock present in most of our urban cores. For some reason however, these pedal powered monuments to Rube Goldberg annoy me to no end as the products of minds combining the worst aspects of ADHD and an obsessive mechanical engineering bent.
A few years ago an acquaintance of mine purchased one of these for an ungodly amount of money as his new daily driver. Three wheels, slung low to the pavement, with an enormous plexiglass bubble windshield rising in front of the handle bars, you rode it laying flat on your back with the pedals out front. I was skeptical of its utility as a commuting rig in Seattle with its notoriously shitty drivers, but running low on smokes I convinced him to let me take it for a spin down to the 7-11 for a fresh pack and a test drive. The first thing I noticed in attempting to mount the vehicle was that you didn’t mount it so much as you flung yourself into it, and once in it I was consumed with the thought of how I was going to get out of it without the mildly embarrassing spectacle of flopping myself out onto the blacktop belly first and then struggling to my feet. No matter. I fell into the seat without too much effort and took off. Hoping inspiration for a more graceful exit would come to me on the ride.
The second thing I noticed while piloting this thing was that due to its low aerodynamic profile, I was rendered invisible to the aforementioned shitty drivers of the cars I was sharing the road with. There was a long fiber-glass rod with an orange flag on top attached to the frame that was supposed to warn these drivers of my position in relation to the underside of their vehicles but this is just not the sort of thing that Seattle drivers, who are known for their ability to cross four lanes of rush hour traffic fifty feet from their exit simply by blindly turning the wheel and hoping for the best, are capable of deducing as every vehicle I approached would lock its brakes up while the driver leaned on the horn and shout obscenities down at me. By the time I had returned to the house I had consumed about half of my new pack of Camels in the attempt to soothe nerves jangled by numerous near wrecks.
Disappointingly, the hoped for graceful dismount had not materialized on the trip and as I rolled out onto my hands and knees, I told my acquaintance that this thing was the most useless device for transportation that I had ever encountered. He became visibly upset and began a long diatribe on the superiority of the recumbent bicycle over its more traditional counterpart. As I wearily listened to his verbal powerpoint presentation on aerodynamics, improved power train gear ratios, and increased cardiovascular efficiency while in a reclining position, it suddenly dawned on me why these things are so popular in liberal enclaves. They are the perfect metaphor for the progressive mind set. They are generally ridden by people obsessed with reinventing that which already works perfectly fine. They are easy to get into and exceedingly difficult to remove yourself from without looking like an idiot. They are more expensive, more engineered, and theoretically more efficient, at least on paper, than a traditional bicycle and therefore the rider is, as they will inform you ad nauseum, inherently superior to those on “lesser” machines. While the rider pedals nonchalantly through traffic confident in his theoretical brilliance, he pisses off everyone else on the road who would rather he just ride upright where they can see him so as to avoid an accident.
If you want a cardiovascular workout while laying down, I have a couple of suggestions that I probably shouldn’t mention here. In the mean time, keep your couch off of my road and I’ll keep my car out of your bed room.