Lee's Summit Tribune

Downtown Lee's Summit
R-7 School News
Lake Lotawana, MO
Women in Business
Contact Us
Scouting News
VFW News
Lee's Summit City Updates
Council Minutes
Charter Review 2016-17
Police Blotter

Welcome to the new home of Lee's Summit Tribune. We are dedicated to providing you the most current and accurate news and events in Lee's Summit
Home » Opinion » Pedestrianism



April 19, 2014

By Matthew Fuller

Did you know that in the 1870s and 1880s competitive walking was a huge spectator sport? (I know, right?) I recently found out about this thanks to National Public Radio and, yes, it is actually pretty interesting. A book titled “Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk was America’s Favorite Spectator Sport” was recently authored by Matthew Algeo in which he outlines the rise and fall of competitive walking. Now, we’re not talking about speed racing here, but endurance racing where competitors would walk for six days straight, sometimes upwards of 500 miles. So what caused pedestrianism’s decline? 

As it turns out the decline in pedestrianism as a spectator sport was largely a result of improved bicycle design. Before the invention of the safety bicycle by Englishman John Starley which had two similarly sized wheels the most popular type of bicycle was the penny farthing. Penny farthing bicycles had a tremendously sized front wheel and a less than tremendously sized (tiny!) back wheel.

This new design improved the handling and speed at which cyclists could ride and, in a less than shocking turn of events, people would rather watch bicycles crash after days of racing than pedestrians slumping over from exhaustion. Mr. Algeo, in an interview with NPR, said, “It sort of went from a NASCAR [race] at super slow motion to a NASCAR [race] at slow motion.” 

The above, of course, is a very high level overview, but Mr. Algeo dives into the most famous competitive pedestrians and topics such as gambling and performance enhancing drug scandals; primarily coca leafs  and champagne. After all, it seems unlikely that such a popular sport would be without scandals.

So, what does this have to do with livable streets? History provides perspective and the next time you are out walking or biking you can reflect on the history of competitive pedestrianism and challenge yourself or stir some friendly competition with your friends.

May is National Bike Month. May 12 – 16 is Bike to Work Week with Bike to Work Day landing officially on May 16. If you cannot participate in Bike to Work Week or Day, never fear as you have the whole month of May to participate in other National Bike Month activities such as group rides. 

Personally it is a bit far for me to bike from my home in Lee’s Summit to my office in downtown Kansas City, but I am always ready to share the road with cyclists. Lastly, as Lee’s Summit is an officially recognized Bike Friendly and Walk Friendly community, you can and should take advantage of the City’s livable streets at any time of year!

This article was submitted by Matthew Fuller, who is a citizen of Lee’s Summit and the Chair of the Education and Encouragement Subcommittee for the Livable Streets Advisory Board. The Livable Streets Advisory Board is a Mayor-appointed, volunteer board whose goals include working to make our community and our streets more “livable,” safe, and accessible for all our citizens.

Bookmark and Share

Leave a reply

*Your name:
*Your email: (email won't be published)
Your website: (optional)

Other Recent Articles from the Opinion Category:


Page Views: 1,920
Colonel Hugh Mills Receives DAR Medal of Honor
Page Views: 1,579
Thomas Piccinini
Page Views: 1,056
#practices4life: November, 2017
Page Views: 983
Answering questions about Board of Education - from Board President Terri Harmon
Page Views: 979
Cleaver and Bishop Call for GAO Investigation
City of Lee's Summit
LS Economic Dev Council
LS Tourism
LS Chamber
LS Parks & Rec

LS R-7

Summit Christian Academy

St Michael the Archangel
Fire Heavily Damages Lee's Summit Home at 208 SE 16th Terrace
Fire Heavily Damages Lee's Summit Home at 208 SE 16th Terrace
Home  | 
Copyright © 2009-2017 Lee's Summit Tribune