This is a look back in the (rear-view helmet-mounted Third Eye bicycling) mirror, to when I was tricycling to work at McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. every workday year-round, starting during a sizzling hot summer in 1980 through mid-1991, when I took early retirement to start a home-based business.
I don’t recall how it came about but St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Leo Fitzmaurice, ended up doing a story about me which included the photo above of me on my trike outside my home in Ferguson. The story is pasted directly below. I’ve corrected some errors it contained in comments following it.
Please either click the link Cyclist Peddling Safety P-D Mon Sept 7, 1987 to read the story pasted below, or press Cd+ when using a Mac to enlarge this page. Use the back button, top right to return to page.
Post-Dispatch Story Corrections & Additions:
Growing up, I did sometimes bicycle with friends to such places as parks that were too far away to walk. But I left my bike behind after moving to London when I was 15, and I didn’t resume cycling again until I was around 34 for environmental reasons, when I committed to bicycling to work daily.
A three-tracked tricycle is actually inferior to a single-track bicycle on pockmarked roads since it’s harder to dodge potholes, etc.
Having an additional rear wheel and a rear axle does make it heavier than a bicycle. However, since the frame is made from Reynolds thin-walled bicycle tubing, that helps to keep the total weight down to 35 lbs. (That’s before adding the bike tools plus the change of clothes I used to take to work each day in the case on the back.)
It wasn’t my design but one offered by Ken Rogers who built tricycles.
On the tricycle in the photograph, which was originally bought for my wife, the dual braking is all on the front wheel, and is very effective. On a bicycle this arrangement would be dangerous, however, because of the risk of being thrown over the handlebars during heavy braking. That’s never happened on the trike because of the extra weight on the rear wheels.
That was a reference to a much earlier conversation with my wife, whom I was trying to persuade to start cycling in England. She said if I could find a tricycle for her, she would consider it, and to her surprise I found one advertised in the Exchange & Mart, which is what subsequently led me to choose a tricycle to ride to work too.
I was referring to the tendency for a tricycle to tip when turning, due to centrifugal force, which has to be countered by physically leaning in the opposite direction. Thus, when turning right one has to also lean right. Clearly bicycles have other advantages as well, one being lower weight, noted above, and narrower overall width, which on my trike is 24″ at the rear.
The first was actually when I was riding down Airport Rd. on my way home from work, shortly and a motorist was breathing down my neck as I approached a traffic light just beyond the I-170 underpass and started to turn left. Instead, I continued in a straight line as my inside wheel skidded from under me. On a bike I’d have skinned my left leg and arm but the rear axle held me off the ground. Oncoming traffic already stopped at the stop light continued to wait patiently even after the light changed, giving me time to right my trike, collect the front lamp that had flown off, and then cross the road in front of them. From that experience I learned a lesson: try not to allow a motorist to intimidate you or dictate how you behave.
Back in 1987, I was still practicing John Forester’s recommendations for lane positioning at intersections: “The rule of thirds,” Forester called it. Over time, I concluded that it was safer to exercise lane control whenever possible, certainly at intersections and on multi-lane roads.