May 29th 2017

A volcano gave us the bike


Mount Tambora raised 4300 meters above sea level before the volcanic eruption of 1815. Today, the mountain is 2800 meters high and the volcano's caldera is 60 kilometers in diameter. Photo: Jialiang Gao / peace-on-earth.org / Wikipedia
A volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia was the direct reason we got the bike 200 years ago ... Confused? Not after this explanation.

In April 1815, the most powerful volcanic eruption occurred in modern times on the island of Sumbawa in today's Indonesia. The stratovolcano has today a diameter of 60 kilometers, erupted a powerful fire column and produced violent lava flows.

Slaughtered livestock

The eruption led to a lot of deaths and extreme changes in weather conditions around the globe. The crops failed and in the following year - 1816 – and this year became known as the "year without summer".

"In Europe this followed several years with bad crops. Livestock were slaughtered to prevent hunger death. Also the horses, which were absolutely necessary transport animals, had to die", explains Reginald L. Hermanns (leader of the Geohazard and Earth Observation team) at the Geological Survey of Norway.

Bike run on June 12th

And what happened then ...?

The German inventor Karl von Drais took the challange to find something that could replace the horse for transport. In 1817 he introduced "Die Laufmaschine", the predecessor of the Velocipede. On June 12th, 1817, he undertook an eight kilometer bike ride from Mannheim to the "Schwetzinger Relaishaus" inn.

"We are now taking the initiative to mark the 200th anniversary", Reginald Hermanns says.  "You are hereby challenged to use the opportunity and ride eight kilometers on Monday 12th of June".

Climate changes

To put the bike in a larger perspective, Hermanns explains the issue this way:

"As you have read; A local volcanic eruption leads to a global impact on climate. Local reductions in greenhouse gases can also contribute to global effect. When we use the bike, instead of driving a car or using other motorized vehicles, we reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. By cycling eight kilometers on June 12th, you will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and make aware of contributing to the green shift. The volcanic eruption in 1815 taught us that there is only one earth".

This is the inventor Karl von Drais with his original "Laufmaschine", the first kind of a bike. Photo: Unknown / Wikipedia