The New York Bicycle World’s Fair

light wheels steven stollman

A decade ago, I was the operator of the Boat and Bike rental concession in Flushing Meadows Park, the site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs. I proposed then that an anniversary celebration of these events be held, but with a different architecture. Instead of large, expensive, and temporary pavilions, sponsored by the biggest corporations, USA States, and foreign governments, the usual top-down affair, it was proposed that this event be a bottom-up, multi-year celebration, centered on creative designs of human-powered and electric-assisted vehicles. Further, it was proposed that these efforts, by individuals or small groups, be supported, in part, by cooperating foundations, companies, cities, and educational institutions, and take place in New York City, as well as in other locations around the world, on an ongoing basis.

Back then, the proposal for these exhibitions and demonstrations was intended to serve to raise the awareness of the potential of these technologies to provide us with their considerable environmental and economic benefits, while developing more interest and involvement in their possibility to contribute to more healthful and needed advances in our ordinary habits. Now, a decade later, after the crucial evolution of battery and motor technology, we are witnessing rapid progress in this realm and every day brings new products and ideas forward. The utility and pleasure provided by these machines have now been established everywhere.

While these developments are certainly welcome, there is still an important opportunity to open this process fully, to engage artists, designers, engineers and mechanics, and others, to contribute to this evolution. Providing a place, like car-free Flushing Meadows Park, to provide one of the central venues for the public to experience these advances, to ride and share these devices and exhibit the results of their creative efforts, will further accelerate their development and wide use.

It is not necessary for any organization to control this activity or directly manage it. Rather, it can be publicized and popularized and become one of the ways for this important technology to become a part of our lives more rapidly and provide for a far wider range of design options. Weather protection, multi-person devices, easier access and improved safety are some of the areas in which we need to pay more attention. Bicycling is ordinarily a solitary activity and is usually limited to use in fair weather, thus preventing its fullest benefit. The introduction of helper motors has already considerably expanded the number of users, but the most stable, comfortable and utilitarian models are still rarely available. The ability to use vehicles in all kinds of weather conditions, hot, cold, rainy etc. limits their ability to replace the multi-ton vehicles that monopolize our open spaces. Multi-passenger “Sociables” that were once popular, are rarely in evidence. All this can change as our ambition to fulfill the potential of these machines is explored and realized.

Recent events, in the form of fires and floods and pandemics, may have been interpreted, by some, as a kind-of Biblical message. For others, this is an urgent call for action, to explore the most dramatic changes in our consumption patterns, of fossil fuels especially, as soon as possible. There are few changes that will be more effective in countering this challenge to our survival. Creativity is sometimes just a path to pleasure but it can also be a kind of medicine, the most effective response to a dangerous threat. It is time for us to take this remedy to heart, to use the transformation of our public spaces as a conspicuous demonstration of our ability to confront our common challenges and resolve our most serious crises, joyfully and effectively.

A Plan

  • Goals

Environmental

Accelerating needed changes

Introducing new concepts

Widening public awareness

Economic

New companies forming

Money saved

Lessening waste

Lowering costs

Aesthetic

Beauty, not just utility

Uniqueness vs. manufacturing

  • Participants

Designer/Builders

Existing

At schools

Artists/Sculptors

Concepts as well as actualities

Work that excites interest

Organizations

NGOs

Health

Environmental

Justice

Transport

International

Professional

Engineers

Designers

Art

Community

Queens Museum

Hall of Science

Improvement groups

  • International

Foreign Governments

Transportation ministers

Environmental agencies

Health departments

Previous exhibitors

Businesses

Organizations

Comity

Environmental

  • Politicians

NYC

Jessica Ramos

Eric Adams

NYS

Heads of relevant committees

Agencies

NYSERDA

  • Sponsors

Foundations

Personal

Sierra Club

NRDC

Foreign Governments

Transportation ministers

Environmental agencies

Health departments

Previous exhibitors

Industry

Corporations

Former participants

Government Agencies

NRDC

Commerce

DOT

Businesses

Local

Industry-based

Bike-related

Individuals

Stollman

???????

  • Schools

Universities

Community Colleges

High Schools

Trade Schools

  • Strategy

Local buy-in first

Massive email

Request for lists

Public records

Press

Social media

Print and broadcast

Pre-events and exhibits

  • Budget

Minimal $5000 seed money

Primarily volunteers

Outreach through Social Media

Legal setup established

Totally transparent

GoFundMe or other

  • Structure

Democratic, majority-ruled

Members are invited

Temporary initially

Activity aided not managed

  • Supporters

Financial

Signatories

Co-sponsors

  • Staff

Organizer

Media person

Graphic artist

Treasurer

Contacts:

Email: StevenStollman@gmail.com  | tel.: 1 212 431 0600light wheels festival steve stollman

Artwork by Gerard (Baby Jery) Perichon http://babyjery.com/

To download the artwork in a bigger size, please click Picture 1 or Picture 2

or Here for PDF file.