15 May 2012

What The Doctor Prescribed

If you're younger than I am, you may not have heard of him. But he may be, at least indirectly, one of the reasons you're on your bike now.

Dr. Paul Dudley White became President Dwight D. Eisenhower's personal physician after the Commander-In-Chief suffered a heart attack late in his first term.  At that time, few American adults rode bicycles, and the economy and landscape of the Unites States were increasingly shaped by the automobile.  

Today medical authorities cite Dr. White as the founder of preventative cardiology.  As a young doctor, he co-authored, along with Dr. Roger I. Lee, his first scientific paper.  It was about the coagulation of blood. Drs. White and Lee would develop a method, still in use today, for calculating the speed of blood coagulation.  Their studies in this area were very important in helping to understand the causes of heart disease.

He identified, or helped to identify, various heart and heartbeat irregularities for which doctors routinely test today.  Another result of his work was his establishing links between lifestyle and heart health.  At a time when part of the "American Dream" meant becoming more sedentary, he encouraged people to exercise; as convenience and "junk" foods were becoming more widely available, he promoted diets based mainly on lean meat, fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

Dr. White was also instrumental in having some of the first bike lanes built in American cities since the turn of the 20th Century.  Here he is, riding with Chicago's then-Mayor Richard Daley at the opening of that city's first lane:



  1. Now you ARE making me feel old. Dr White features in Sloane's book. Note to self: must keep track of cane location...

  2. Steve: You're not old. You're one of the cycling community's bearers of wisdom. Cane or no cane, we need you! And your blog doesn't get old.

  3. Paul Dudley White and another bicycling doctor, Clifford Graves, seem to come up quite a bit in 70's era bike books, at least the ones I've seen.

    Is it just me or does Daley look a tad...uncomfortable?

  4. excellent post justine :)
    <3 dr. dudley white

  5. Adventure: I think it might have been Daley's only time on a bike in his entire life.

    Dr. Graves was another doctor who was instrumental in getting American adults on bicycles during the 1960's and 1970's.

    Meligrosa--Thank you!