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Reading: Roads Were Not Built for Cars: How Cyclists were the First to Push for Good Roads & Became the Pioneers of Motoring by Carlton Reid

July 9, 2015 Bicycling, Books, Featured, Transportation 2 Comments
Click image to hear a webinar featuring author Carlton Reid
Click image to hear a webinar featuring author Carlton Reid

When I had my stroke in February 2008 I owned 5-6 bicycles, the oldest was a very original 1950s Huffy. I kept my bright orange Kronan, a reproduction of a single-speed WWII Swedish Army bike, as art. I love all things bicycle.

My library includes a few coffee table books on bicycles and their history. Those books briefly touch on early dirt roads and how cyclists pushed for better roads on which to ride, but they quickly get into the various bike designs, mechanicals, etc. A new book just out focuses not on bicycles, but on the early cyclist’s push for better roads. In ‘Roads Were Not Built for Cars: How Cyclists were the First to Push for Good Roads & Became the Pioneers of Motoring’ author Carlton Reid goes into great detail, from publisher Island Press:

In Roads Were Not Built for Cars, Carlton Reid reveals the pivotal—and largely unrecognized—role that bicyclists played in the development of modern roadways. Reid introduces readers to cycling personalities, such as Henry Ford, and the cycling advocacy groups that influenced early road improvements, literally paving the way for the motor car. When the bicycle morphed from the vehicle of rich transport progressives in the 1890s to the “poor man’s transport” in the 1920s, some cyclists became ardent motorists and were all too happy to forget their cycling roots. But, Reid explains, many motor pioneers continued cycling, celebrating the shared links between transport modes that are now seen as worlds apart. In this engaging and meticulously researched book, Carlton Reid encourages us all to celebrate those links once again.

The book is available in paperback and iPad formats. See roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com for more information.

I love bikes…I just can’t ride one anymore.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. gmichaud says:

    I’m not sure society agrees with that point of view. Roads are built for the cars. In fact the fault of St. Louis vs European transportation models that include bicycles as a viable point of transit is that the infrastructure accommodates the bicycle, which often means, entirely separate paths for the bicycle or paths that may include pedestrians and bicycles. Certainly the St. Louis model of bicycles is primitive at best, which is amazing considering it is St. Louis’s most advanced (conceptually) mode of transit.
    It only shows how primitive the rest of St Louis transit really is in comparison to the rest of the civilized world.

    • JZ71 says:

      You and “society” may not agree, but it’s history. Like many things in history, it’s been minimized, spun and forgotten, because it’s inconvenient, embarrassing or doesn’t fit one’s desired narrative.


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