You don’t have to have ridden a bike for long to find out that most motorists think they own the road.
I mean, they pay for it don’t they? Cyclists and pedestrians are just freeloaders impeding the cars’ smooth passage, and if there’s some collateral damage, well they shouldn’t have even been on the road.
Carlton Reid has written a very compelling and interesting account about the development of this modern world’s arteries, the roads and the myths and culture which has built up around them.
It’s not a big leap to realise that roads have been around for a long time. For 99% of their history cars and other motorised vehicles didn’t exist. In fact, the development of the modern road was kick-started by another nineteenth century invention, the bicycle. Britain’s Cyclist Touring Club is, in fact the oldest road touring and rights organisation in the world.
Where I used to live in the south west of England there are still vestiges of this era in the form of some very old danger signs which, somehow, have conveyed their warnings for over a hundred years.
Carlton’s book reviews the history of this period in both the UK and the USA. It’s hard to believe that once, the US was the vanguard of developments of cycling facilities. The first tarmac/blacktop was laid for the benefit of bicycles. There were elevated cycle expressways, for goodness sake!
Roads Were Not Built For Cars examines in detail the history of cycling and its contribution to the present road system through that time until the present. It demolishes myths such as how roads are paid for exclusively by motorists. They’re not. They may pay excise duty on their gas and petrol. They may pay for licences. They may pay annual fees for their cars. But none of that money is ring-fenced or allocated to road building or maintenance. It just goes into the general pot of taxation. Roads are paid for by anyone who pays tax. Even cyclists.
Mr Reid’s book is an engaging and illuminating volume. Every cyclist should read it. In fact, every road user should read it.
Roads Were Not Built For Cars is available as an ebook or softback from your usual book store.