↑ Margaret Guroff visits Google to discuss her book The Mechanical Horse: How the Bicycle Reshaped American Life.
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.
Margaret Guroff is a magazine editor. She is also the editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick, an online annotation of Herman Melville’s classic novel. She teaches writing at the Johns Hopkins University.