A Picture Is Worth... Ride a Bike and Stay Well

flu ad

This ad from the flu pandemic of 101 years ago has held up well.

When researching our healthy home series a few years ago I found this ad, posted in 1918 in the middle of the flu pandemic that killed 675,000 Americans, another time when they had no vaccine or antidote, or really any solutions other than isolation. The benefits of exercise and fresh air are well known, but the fact that riding a bike keeps you out of the crowds, away from the coughers and the sneezers, is a definite plus.

Take out the gender bias and we would be good to go today.

Public Domain. An emergency hospital at Camp Funston, Kansas, 1918- National Museum of Health and Medicine

An emergency hospital at Camp Funston, Kansas, 1918- National Museum of Health and Medicine/Public Domain

Last year I wrote about the flu, about how it was made far worse by government inaction and misdirection.

According to John M. Barry, the government made it worse, mainly because of the war. President Wilson and his Committee on Public Information controlled the news, noting that “Truth and falsehood are arbitrary terms....The force of an idea lies in its inspirational value. It matters very little if it is true or false.”
A hundred years later, things look awfully familiar. Truth and falsehoods are again arbitrary terms. We are still telling people that bikes are healthy (I rode mine all winter, the coughing in the subway scared me). We are still being told to cover our mouths and wash our hands and stay home if we are sick, because 100 years later we still do not have an effective universal flu vaccine. People don't take the vaccines we have because they don't trust anyone anymore.

I concluded: "Wash your hands and get on your bike and hope that it doesn't happen again too soon." Even better advice this year.