Wheels Carry Us to Invention, Inspiration, and… Progress?

Mankind invented the wheel. What have we done with that innovation?

We have come up with the horse and carriage, a transition to the motorized vehicle and which are still used in many parts of the country today. Though they have the horse which needs to be fed and cared for there is the need of the carriage with its two large wheels. We came up with the stagecoach… still needs horses, though, and at least four. More expensive care and feeding there, and for the tourist carriages that roll through some American cities there is the extra need for safety procedures that ensure the care of horse and riders.

Chicago is a city that runs twenty -four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, all the time but not always on time. Yet we as a city -race do run, and we can run ourselves ragged.

We as citizens of America’s third -largest city are surrounded by wheels. There are four of them on our cars; there are hundreds of them on the trains we take every day, and there are hundreds of them on the busses that come to collect us and take us to our destinations.

On television we also see the wheel. There is the wheel of fortune on the show of the same name. There is a wheel on the popular game show and one of the longest running television shows, the Price is Right, and there are wheels of prizes on Let’s Make a Deal. If there is not a wheel there is the “roll” of the dice in the hopes of winning something really nice. Among the prizes offered are, what else, cars and motorcycles.

We can easily forget in the limelight of potentially winning one of those spectacular prizes the elements of safety that come with owning them. If you drive you must realize that there are rules of safety designed to keep you and other drivers and pedestrians safe. There are rules and laws of decency that every driver needs to know and to follow. Never use a device that takes your hands off the steering wheel. You are in a moving automobile, a vehicle weighing at least three thousands pounds and much more the larger and heavier it is. Vehicles can travel the length of a football field in less than ten seconds at 55 miles an hour.

Left untamed, the wheel can take us right into nothing but trouble. Four of them moving at that speed can cause great catastrophes and harm and injury and destruction.

The wheel is a sign and symbol of taking risk, of making a journey, of traveling and of arriving.

Somewhere.

We get in our cars or on the bus or train with the intention of getting someplace and doing something. We “fight traffic”, we get into “traffic jams”, and we experience “train delays” and construction delays every day. Now delays can be caused by any number of reasons- the ever -present construction, weather situations, trucks stuck under viaducts, or flooded viaducts. And under us those wheels made of rubber and metal, decorated by hubcaps and inflated by air pressure, those wheels supporting the tons of metal, rubber, and… people who use them every day.

And under those wheels, the roads that need the very constant maintenance that causes those jams and delays and ties -up and other situations we encounter. Roads and tracks need to be in good order to support the thousands of vehicles traveling on them every day, and if they are not we can and do see the consequences.

Airplanes also have wheels. Isn’t it amazing when you look at those tiny tires under the millions of tons of jetliner and wonder how they support it? Some jets weigh close to half a million tons, so it seems a stat on the aptly -called jumbo jets came through once. Planes take off at over a hundred miles an hour and touch down on those incredible tires, and I to this day am inspired to watch when a jet comes into the terminal jet -way, gazing at those circles of rubber and metal. Remarkable.

We are a nation of travelers, no matter what we are doing. We watch shows that inspire us to travel; we get out of the house and go places to do things. We feel the need and have the right to freedom of movement and to move anywhere we want.

But some people misuse those resources others pay taxes on and work on and get to work and school and play and worship on. Some people use their vehicles to commit drive -by murders, use them to dispense drugs, use them to run the drugs to other states, use them to commit road rage, vehicular homicide, and hit and run incidents that take the lives of others and can leave others maimed for life. Some people consider that they can just throw waste on the roads, where other have to see and smell it every day. They throw it out lazily and without any consideration that someone else will have to clean it up, and when there are trash bags and receptacles they can put the waste into. You who litter and who just toss junk onto the roads should know better than that! Such habits show a total lack of consideration for the lives of others; throw the junk onto a road and you could cause an accident. You might think that little piece of trash is nothing but if someone runs over it or hits it a tragedy could happen, and you would be at fault for causing death and destruction.

You would be at fault for causing loss of life, of someone who might turn out to be a loved one or a friend or even someone you work with. Do you think of that?

But there are better ways to consider the roads we use and everything that goes with using those roads. Of course we can think of those roads but we do have other ways to travel, and those ways existed before the wheel.

We have feet and we can make trails and paths- we were doing so long before we had to invent the convertible. We were running and hunting and getting around because we had to, because we needed to get place to place and follow the animals and the spring rains and the trade routes.

We can use our feet to go some places so long as the walk is not super long… that is unless we are on a relay race that takes us across states and countries to raise funds for some worthy cause as happened this week to help the people affected by events in Boston last year. Thousands of people will this coming week run in the Boston Marathon, only a year after two horrid men set off bombs in that beautiful city, killing and maiming and doing great harm to many people.

And how will the racers and spectators get to Boston? Well, if they live close enough some might walk to see the Marathon. But my wager is that most of them will travel on or in a vehicle with wheels. Some will fly in and take busses and cars; some will drive sedans and coupes, and some will ride their bicycles or motorcycles as far as they can get them to the race limits. They will take the tens of thousands of miles of roads that cross the United States, roads they hope are safe and maintained and travel -ready, will share those roads with thousands of other drivers and passengers in millions of vehicles of every size and description.

Trucks, huge semi tractor -trailers, moving vans, fire engines, ambulances, cars of every size and shape and vintage; the sport utility vehicles, busses and campers used for recreation during nice weather, and the motorcycles, vans, and limousines will make their way to Boston. With them are the police officers and the security teams that will monitor the routes and the airports leading in and out of that fair city.

There will be risks getting in and out of Boston as there are any other city or any place we go every day. Those who turn the chance into a grand circumstance will see an event that will be so very special to the participants and spectators, not only because the racers have trained and prepared for that big day but because of those thousands that will join them live and on television and by computer to watch them in that effort to show the world that those nasty terrorists have NOT WON that day and WILL NOT WIN at any time and any place on United States land.

We love to travel. Let’s all stay safe doing so.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

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Horse and Carriage: Save Them for the Farm!

Alderman Ed Burke Takes a Stand Against Nuisance Carriages in Chicago

A large brown horse is chasing a small horse in a pasture.

The Wonderful, Beautiful Horse.

Every time I see one of those horse and carriage contraptions moseying up the streets of downtown Chicago, I want to yell out, “ANIMAL CRUELTY!” and wish them out of my sight. I do not like the sight of them and think we have enough “horsepower” on our streets that is overwhelming the carriage horses.

In this issue I must take a stand with the opinion of Alderman Burke to ban the horses and carriages from Chicago streets, and the reasons are valid and numerous.

First of all, the horses are real animals that should not be subject to the dangers presented on Chicago’s busy streets. This is cruel to them. They are not mechanical menials or slaves to our whims. They have dignity and feel and breathe and they should not be subjected to these conditions.

A mounted man in a blue uniform on a dark brown horse

Yes there are police horses and yes there are horses used in dressage, in sports, in parades and other ceremonies in the United States and around the world, but the situation in Chicago is different, the use and idea are different. The carriage drivers are shuttling people around in heavy traffic, they hold up and stall traffic, they get around the busses, around large vehicles such as trucks and limousines, and they leave more than just the slow traffic. They leave irritated drivers who already have enough on their minds without the thought of injuring a horse, damaging a hundred-year-old carriage or injuring carriage patrons.

And another thing about horses: they leave messes and smells, but to the messes.

How many of you know that many drivers dump the “loads” that end up in those large bags behind the horse? What they eat and drink has to come out somewhere, after all. The evidence of the crap (literally) is clear at the corner/intersection of Chestnut and Dearborn streets in the Gold Coast. I have seen them actually flush the bags and dump the contents at those corners. The waste runs off and it is plain that it comes from the horses. Imagine what happens when that dries? You step in in it and you definitely smell it. Imagine that getting into the water supply?

When you are at the bus stops that are along the area of Chestnut, Dearborn and Delaware, you can certainly see and smell the “evidence” and when you are waiting twenty minutes for a bus and you are thinking of going out to eat, well, it tends to just about make you lose your appetite. Animal waste is waste after all, it is toxic and full of germs and it attracts rats. Chicago is trying to get rid of the rats; we are told to clean up after the dogs because the waste attracts rats so why are the carriage drivers allowed to dump the horse waste at night when they are off shift? Do they not think about the problem of the rats or the fact that people live and work around where they dump the waste loads?

YEEECCCHHHHH.

I do not think that this is safe or sanitary, not in the least. These carriages are around homes, restaurants, and schools, hotels, churches, places where people congregate, where they walk, and where they eat. Horses have an odor just as any animal does, and when a horse has been outside doing that much work they are going to be irritable, smelly, accumulating waste in the behind bag, and be tired. That is a dangerous combination.

It is not that people have not been injured or property damaged or anything like that. It is the health problem these animals can cause in the matter of the dumping of the waste. It is not whether or not we “beat” New York City to the finish of the deed of banning the carriages and the hazards. We just need to do it.

The kids enjoy being around the police horses as well. The horse officers serve a real duty; they are not for the satisfaction of the tourist trade or the idea of nostalgia. They have a job to do like the security dogs you see in train stations. The horse and carriage belong in the farm community, where their role of the working animal has real meaning, or on the ranches, or at best they should roam the wild lands free and clear of being burdened by breathing in carbon monoxide, being blown at by the horns of impatient drivers, being blasted by the wake of large trucks and busses and being potentially endangered by weather and road conditions that could cause them harm.

The loss of a few carriages is not going to hurt the tourist industry here. We have much more to offer… like the zoo for instance, where animals are cared for and are not promoted as beasts of burden. I think an animal in a natural or as natural a setting as possible is so much better to see and experience than the situation we see with the horse and carriage trade.

Two horses in a pasture, one is standing beside the other that is laying down.

Horses relaxing and keeping watch in a natural and traffic-free setting.

Please save the horses. Let the kids know that there are better ways to treat the animals, that life is precious and that we must treat all life with respect.

Divi Logan. Chicago, 2014.

RESOURCES

1. http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/02/05/alderman-ed-burke-proposes-ban-on-horse-drawn-carriages/

2. Wikipedia contributors. “Horse.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 21 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.

3. https://portal.chicagopolice.org/portal/page/portal/ClearPath/About%20CPD/Specialized%20Units/Mounted%20Unit