Dude, Where’s My Flying Car?

Jetsons car The 2000s were supposed to be the defining moment – the shining boundary that separated the archaic past from the future. Goodbye to the era of The Flinstones; hello to the age of The Jetsons. Well, here we are, in the year 2014, and I have just one question: Where’s my flying car?

They were supposed to be here in the future. The pop culture of my childhood assured us that the future would be like a cross between Back to the Future 2 and The Jetsons. Self-lacing sneakers! Instant food! Suburban neighborhoods in the sky! But alas – even as we approach 2015, we must still bend over to tie the laces of our sneakers, and cooking an edible meal in the microwave still takes an annoying two minutes. Maybe we took a wrong turn and somehow landed in a dystopian future.

Future Technologies We Are Still Waiting For:

Hoverboards

Admit it — you know you’re still waiting for your chance to hop on one of those babies and soar around the neighborhood like Marty McFly. It’s on the bucket list of every Gen Xer. Sadly, other than the Tony Hawk hoverboard hoax, the technology still does not exist.

hoverboard

Still waiting for real-life Hoverboards

 

  1. Flying Cars

Really, I don’t even want to fly one, due to a slight fear of heights. I just want to see the vision brought to life. Just imagine – streams of cars flying through invisible freeways overhead, while down on the ground, the rest of us float along on Hoverboards and miniature, Power Wheels versions of flying cars.

Eyeglass televisions / telephones
Imagine if we were able to watch television and answer the phone and everything using our eyeglasses. That would be so…wait, what? That already exists? Oh yeah – Google Glass!

Google Glass

Google Glass is actually really, really cool tech.

  1. Trips to the Moon

Nope…although millionaires may choose to travel to outer space for a day of anti-gravity kicks, we still can’t hop on a spacecraft and take the family for a casual camping trip on the moon. Too bad. I was looking forward to helping my kids earn a scouting badge for space travel.

 

Robot Servants

Okay, I’m gonna come right out and say it. I’m glad that we don’t have robot servants like Rosie the Robot. Not that it wouldn’t be incredible to have a robot servant. It’s just that Rosie, with her low-tech blinking lights, wheels, and choppy, robotic voice, would be kind of a let-down. I want my future servants to be realistic – like a cross between The Terminator and the androids from I, Robot.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&docid=siOcTKAw9UB6HM&tbnid=2KJgurY8dfl63M:&ved=0CAUQjhw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thepaltrysapien.com%2F2012%2F07%2Fwhere-are-our-robot-servants-and-other-gizmos-asks-david-graeber%2F&ei=9yEXVNeREYO4ogTvnoGABw&bvm=bv.75097201,d.cGU&psig=AFQjCNEmwXWPyLc6txoQAltZZSFM3gPzqw&ust=1410888572333853

It’s actually rather impressive how many future predictions from The Jetsons and Back-to-the-Future have already come to fruition. Just look at the amazing technology we are surrounded by that were no more than science fiction just a couple of decades ago – flat screen televisions on our walls, video conferencing, mobile tablet computers, and 3D movie super-sequels instead of original material (Jaws 19, anyone?). Luckily, there are also a few future predictions that did not come true, such as moving conveyor belts inside our homes (pretty sure that wouldn’t help the obesity epidemic); or houses built on stilts as high as the stratosphere (because I kind of like being able to breathe, and because falling off the front porch could be a real bummer). I’m also really hoping that when the year 2063 actually arrives, our society will not have reverted back to the patriarchal, homogenous culture that apparently still existed in the Jetsons future. In that regard, perhaps we really have arrived in a sort of utopian future. Except for the lack of Hoverboards and flying cars.

Life on Two Wheels (aka: Why You Should Ride a Bike)

What if I were to tell you that I know a way that you can easily save on perhaps $100 per month is gasoline? And then, what if I were to tell you that I know a simple way to burn off up to 3000 calories per month? How about a very effective way to contribute to a greener, healthier environment? Okay, now how about all three things at the same time? No, I am not kidding. Here is the secret: Ride a Bicycle.

That’s it. Plain and simple. Oh, don’t roll your eyes. There are so many benefits to bicycle riding, not only as a form of exercise, but as a major form of local transportation. So what is keeping you from driving less and biking more? Hmm, let’s see:

1. A Bike is Too Expensive

Well, for some people, this may be true. Some families can not afford to purchase a bicycle, or a car. But for many families and individuals, buying a bicycle may be more affordable than you think. There is no need to look to pricey bike shops. Stores such as Toys R Us and Target sell a wide variety of stylish, high-quality, and affordable road bikes for less than $200. For example, the gorgeous silver Schwinn bike that I bought at Target eight years ago for around $150 still functions perfectly today. And yesterday, to reward my 8th grade graduate, I purchased a very sturdy and cool-looking men’s road bike on clearance at Toys R Us for less than $60. Yes, seriously. (Shh…don’t tell my teen. He thinks I paid a lot more money for it). The point is, unless you are just a total snob who will never buy a bicycle unless it is some top-of-the-line $700 bike from a fancy bike shop, many middle-class people can afford to buy a bicycle. And the cost of savings on gasoline alone will make the purchase worthwhile very quickly.

Graduation Bike Present

2. I Am Too Lazy to Ride a Bike

Well, at least you are honest about it. We live in a lazy (and obese) society. But before you shrug off bike riding as something for people with lots of energy, consider this: A study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that bike riding improved energy levels by 20 percent and decreased fatigue by 65 percent. Go figure – expending a little energy to ride your bike to the store actually rewards you with more energy. Not to mention that fact that leisurely bike riding ( <10mph) can burn around 300 calories per hour. And the fact that biking is easier on the joints than other forms of exercise, like running or even walking. So get off the couch, lazybones!

3. I Don’t Have the Equipment or Mechanical Skills

What equipment? All you really need is a helmet. Oh, and a bike pump. At some point, it will help to have a couple of other basic tools, like an allen wrench, some lube, and one of those plastic thingies for changing out inner tubes. As far as mechanical skills, keeping a bike maintained is easy-peasy. And no, I am not a mechanically-inclined person. The idea of doing repairs more complex than a change of batteries often sets off mini panic attacks. If I were a Sim, I’m pretty sure I would only have 3 out of 10 mechanical points. But even I can manage to replace the inner tube of a bike tire. And unless you don’t have any hands, so can you. (Although I’m not sure you should ride a bike if you don’t have hands). You do not need special sneakers or spandex biker shorts to ride a bicycle. Whichever clothes you normally wear are fine (although if you are a women who enjoys wearing short skirts, you may want to wear pants beneath your skirt. You can always take them off when you reach your destination).

4. What About My Small Children? What About Cargo?

It is now easier than ever to turn bike riding into reliable family transportation. There are many options available, from ride-on infant carriers to child tandem-bike attachments for older kids who still don’t have the hang of riding independently. When my children were very small, I spent around $100 to buy a two-seat child trailer like the one below. When my youngest son was around 1, and his sister 4 years old, I used to strap them into the trailer, and we happily cycled together to the park, the library, and the grocery store. It was safe, durable, and very convenient to use. Sure, more expensive models exist, but don’t let price deter you from involving your young children in your regular bike rides.

As for cargo, the child trailer is also a great solution for larger loads. But for normal, small trips to the grocery store, school, etc., I find that it helps to wear a backpack to carry a bag or two. You can also mount an inexpensive metal cargo rack or basket to the front or rear of your bike for additional cargo needs. 2-Child Bike Trailer

Are you convinced yet? I hope so. Biking is such a time-tested, practical way to travel around your community. It is great for your health, great for the environment, and great for your wallet, too. What more do you need to convince you that biking is a positive lifestyle choice, not only for you, but for your entire family? Go — dust off that old bike in the back of your garage and start cycling!