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Quotations on Bicycling & Transportation





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"Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride"
~John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

"The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart."
~Iris Murdoch, writer (1919-1999) 

"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race." 
~H.G. Wells

"When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope seems hardly worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a good spin down the road, without thought of anything but the ride you are taking."
~Arthur Conan Doyle

”The car has become... an article of dress without which we feel uncertain, unclad, and incomplete.” 
~Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964

”The automobile has not merely taken over the street, it has dissolved the living tissue of the city.  Its appetite for space is absolutely insatiable; moving and parked, it devours urban land, leaving the buildings as mere islands of habitable space in a sea of dangerous and ugly traffic.” 
~James Marston Fitch, New York Times, 1 May 1960

”The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty.  The activist is the man who cleans up the river.” 
~Ross Perot

”Our national flower is the concrete cloverleaf.” 
~Lewis Mumford

“Modern technology
Owes ecology
An apology.”
~Alan M. Eddison

”Your grandchildren will likely find it incredible - or even sinful - that you burned up a gallon of gasoline to fetch a pack of cigarettes!” 
~Dr. Paul MacCready, Jr.

”You go into a community and they will vote 80 percent to 20 percent in favor of a tougher Clean Air Act, but if you ask them to devote 20 minutes a year to having their car emissions inspected, they will vote 80 to 20 against it.  We are a long way in this country from taking individual responsibility for the environmental problem.” 
~William D. Ruckelshaus, former EPA administrator, New York Times, 30 November 1988

”A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” 
~Paul Dudley White

”Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.” 
~Steven Wright

”I have two doctors, my left leg and my right.” 
~G.M. Trevelyan

”Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams.” 
~Mary Ellen Kelly

”The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.” 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance," 1841

”It wasn't the Exxon Valdez captain's driving that caused the Alaskan oil spill.  It was yours.”  ~Greenpeace advertisement, New York Times, 25 February 1990

”There's so much pollution in the air now that if it weren't for our lungs there'd be no place to put it all.”  ~Robert Orben

”Don't blow it - good planets are hard to find.” 
~Quoted in Time

”Remember the street car cannot turn out.” 
~Charles M. Hayes

”Man is the animal that intends to shoot himself out into interplanetary space, after having given up on the problem of an efficient way to get himself five miles to work and back each day.” 
~Bill Vaughan

”When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments.  Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man.  And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became.  Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others.  Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle.” 
~Elizabeth West, Hovel in the Hills

”Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.” 
~Grant Peterson

”A city that outdistances man's walking powers is a trap for man.” 
~Arnold Toynbee

”Americans are broad-minded people.  They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater, and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there is something wrong with him.”  ~Art Buchwald, "How Un-American Can You Get?," Have I Ever Lied to You?, 1966

”Automobiles are not ferocious.... it is man who is to be feared.” 
~Robbins B. Stoeckel

”In an underdeveloped country, don't drink the water; in a developed country, don't breathe the air.” 
~Changing Times magazine

”Every day is Earth Day.” 
~Author Unknown

”Restore human legs as a means of travel.  Pedestrians rely on food for fuel and need no special parking facilities.” 
~Lewis Mumford

”Consider the man on horseback, and I have been a man on horseback for most of my life.  Well, mostly he is a good man, but there is a change in him as soon as he mounts.  Every man on horseback is an arrogant man, however gentle he may be on foot.  The man in the automobile is one thousand times as dangerous.  I tell you, it will engender absolute selfishness in mankind if the driving of automobiles becomes common.  It will breed violence on a scale never seen before.  It will mark the end of the family as we know it, the three or four generations living happily in one home.  It will destroy the sense of neighborhood and the true sense of Nation.  It will create giantized cankers of cities, false opulence of suburbs, ruinized countryside, and unhealthy conglomerations of specialized farming and manufacturing.  It will make every man a tyrant.” 
~R.A. Lafferty (1914-2002), as quoted in Adbusters, Spring 1996 (ed: attributed to Lafferty in the 19th century, but that was premature for him, and almost the automobile.)

”One of the first laws against air pollution came in 1300 when King Edward I decreed the death penalty for burning of coal.  At least one execution for that offense is recorded.  But economics triumphed over health considerations, and air pollution became an appalling problem in England.” 
~Glenn T. Seaborg, Atomic Energy Commission chairman, speech, Argonne National Laboratory, 1969

”No one should be able to enter a wilderness by mechanical means.” 
~Garrett Hardin, The Ecologist, February 1974

”Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car.” 
~E.B. White, One Man's Meat, 1943

”Humanity is on the march, earth itself is left behind.” 
~David Ehrenfeld, The Arrogance of Humanism, 1978

”As we watch the sun go down, evening after evening, through the smog across the poisoned waters of our native earth, we must ask ourselves seriously whether we really wish some future universal historian on another planet to say about us:  "With all their genius and with all their skill, they ran out of foresight and air and food and water and ideas," or, "They went on playing politics until their world collapsed around them." 
~U Thant, speech, 1970

”What fools indeed we morals are
To lavish care upon a Car,
With ne'er a bit of time to see
About our own machinery!”
~John Kendrick Bangs

”Remember when atmospheric contaminants were romantically called stardust?” 
~Lane Olinghouse

”I'm not sure... about automobiles.... With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization - that is, in spiritual civilization.  It may be that they will not add to the beauty of the world, nor to the life of men's souls.  I am not sure.  But automobiles have come, and they bring a greater change in our life than most of us suspect.  They are here, and almost all outward things are going to be different because of what they bring.  They are going to alter war, and they are going to alter peace.  I think men's minds are going to be changed in subtle ways because of automobiles; just how, though, I could hardly guess.  But you can't have the immense outward changes that they will cause without some inward ones, and it may be that... the spiritual alteration will be bad for us.  Perhaps, ten or twenty years from now, if we can see the inward change in men by that time, I shouldn't be able to defend the gasoline engine, but would have to agree... that automobiles 'had no business to be invented.” 
~Eugene, from Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons, 1918

”You can't see anything from a car; you've got to get out of the goddamn contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbrush and cactus.  When traces of blood begin to mark your trail, you'll see something, maybe.” 
~Edward Abbey

”Because we don't think about future generations, they will never forget us.” 
~Henrik Tikkanen

”For 200 years we've been conquering Nature.  Now we're beating it to death.” 
~Tom McMillan, quoted in Francesca Lyman, The Greenhouse Trap, 1990

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The International Bicycle Fund is an independent, non-profit organization. Its primary purpose is to promote bicycle transportation. Most IBF projects and activities fall into one of  four categories: planning and engineering, safety education, economic development assistance and promoting international understanding. IBF's objective is to create a sustainable, people-friendly environment by creating opportunities of the highest practicable quality for bicycle transportation. IBF is funded by private donation. Contributions are always welcome and are U.S. tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

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