Occasionally, it’s fun to read a quirky, strange, or weird story about my favorite sport. It’s nice to know that bicycling can be celebrated in odd ways or utilized in a different way beyond the expected. That’s sort of the theme of these two short news items from the world of the odd and unique.
First: Man Literally Reinvents the Bicycle Wheel
Over at the Gizmodo website, its editors posted the story of a man who decided to play with the idea of what a bicycle can be. He not only designed a set of wheels that are basically rounded triangles, but he also built a whole new bike frame to accommodate them.
And why, you might ask, would someone go to all this trouble, and for what purpose? Well, no reason is given in the short article about this story and no commentary accompanies the YouTube video. So, my assertion is this: this man was just one of those bored engineer types who needed a project or someone who made an odd bet with one of his work colleagues.
That said, is there any practicality in such a contraption? Well, maybe or maybe not. If you watch the video, the bike chunks along but not at any high rate of speed. In fact, if you were to stop peddling, chances are the triangular-shaped wheels would probably just stop itself.
But if you still wanted to get in some exercise by riding a bike and hadn’t done so before, and with the amount of effort it would take to just get this bike moving, 10 miles could feel more like 20 miles. In other words, it could be a safe but odd way to introduce someone to the process of riding a bike.
Second: The First Ever Bike Hearse in France
It goes without saying that Europeans love riding bikes. In fact, for the people of Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and France, daily usage is not uncommon to see.
France, of course, is known for being the host of the most well-known and prestigious bike race in the world, the Tour de France, which is held every summer. But how about a bike hearse for transporting the deceased to their final resting place? As Euronews.Green points out, this is a totally unique and new thing.
The bike hearse is the invention of Isabelle Plumereau, who runs a funeral home in Paris. She calls her invention a “Corbicyclette,” the pairing of the French words for “hearse” and “bicycle.”
Plumereau states that the bike is basically a cargo bike that’s been converted to hold a coffin. She further explains that this offers the families she works with a slow, quiet way for them to show respect for their loved ones by walking with the hearse instead of being enclosed in the traditional procession of cars.
A New Take on the Funeral Business
As it turns out, this new approach to the funeral procession by Plumereau is just part of the changes occurring in the funeral industry. The impetus behind these changes is the result of the funeral industry recognizing the environmental impact it makes with the burial or cremation of the millions of people that die every year.
The products used during embalming, for instance, can leak out and damage the soil. Cremation releases mercury, natural gas, and other CO2 byproducts into the atmosphere over the three-hour-long process. In the United States in 2020, for example, “360,000 metric tonnes” of CO2 were emitted. These environmental impacts are in addition to the use of coffins and the emissions created by those traveling to funerals.
That is why the funeral industry is now offering a unique approach to a traditional funeral. “Terramation,” a month-long process where a body is composted into soil, is a more environmentally-friendly approach where a mixture of alfalfa and sawdust is used on a body encased in an airtight vessel. This approach also offers families (and the deceased) an alternative if a traditional burial or cremation is an unappealing choice.
I think it’s healthy to challenge the preconceived notions of what things should or should not be, so, why not do that with bicycles and bicycling? If anything, you have to admire the inventiveness and ingenuity that people still bring to a machine that has existed for over 100 years.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend everyone. And I hope if you’re not inventing something new to do with a bicycle, you can get out and do some fun rides while also spending some time with your families.