Monday, November 01, 2010

Wheelchairs of the Future

Before it's too late, as many of the elderly should be encouraged to become "pedestrians on wheels," or bicyclists, who maintain their mobility and motor skills in that daily manner, instead of losing it all progressively by driving and then ultimately transitioning to traditional, motorized wheelchairs. Bicycles can be the "wheelchairs of the future," that allow people to retain their mobility throughout their lives -- because bicycling is easier on the body than walking.

Walking is actually harder on the body than bicycling -- and the reason it is possible to go much farther on one's own power in that manner than walking, or even heaven forbid, running -- which is widely recognized as a disastrously high-impact activity. But so is walking to a much greater extent than bicycling -- and especially with a double suspension bicycle. And of course, the daily exercise of those facilities, allows them to maintain their faculties in a way that simply driving a motorized vehicle doesn't.

But because most people feel uncomfortable riding in traffic, and especially riding fast in traffic, they should ride at the speed of a pedestrian on the sidewalks -- while deferring completely to any other pedestrians, baby carriages, wheelchairs, skateboarders, etc., by either riding briefly and safely in the streets, or slowing or stopping completely to let the other past -- because the safety of all, should be their major concern, rather than speed.

That's where I think most bicyclists don't "get it" -- thinking that speed is their primary objective in their race against cars, other bicyclists, pedestrians, and even themselves. The reality of the matter is that 95% of the sidewalks are seldom used and are thus ideal for use by bicyclists but in the rare encounter with another, instead of going to war against one another for primary or exclusive rights of passage, they can defer to one another, which would be the ultimate expression of civility and citizenship, which is also lacking in many elderlies lives -- by isolating themselves in their cars, and in their homes, with their television sets and pets for their primary companionship.

They could be authentically and genuinely interacting with society -- while getting their daily exercise to maintain their mobility and involvement. We know by now that nominal but daily exercise of our faculties enable us to maintain them until we die, while discontinuing such use, causes them to deteriorate to the point in which we no longer think we have them.

That's the great things about the Internet and these forums -- that we can maintain the exercise of these faculties, without having to concoct a major barrier and incentives to do so -- like having to write a novel, thesis or dissertation.

Everything is made easier and therefore more possible and even inevitable, rather than having to walk a mile to the mailbox -- or climbing several flights of stairs to get to one's apartment. People should be making all these adaptations and adjustments to optimize their lives with the possibilities and technologies of living in the present times -- which is the realization that they can be creative in their problem-solving in this way and live long, enjoyable and fully enabled lives -- instead of the old sense of increasing loss of abilities and functionality.

That's the new world we live in -- that rewards people who simply choose to avail themselves of them, by first learning about them, but they have to teach themselves how to do that -- because it is not profitable for anybody else to do it for them. What is profitable, is their increasing dependence on others to do everything for them. But that is not a sustainable and ennobling vision of life.


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