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e that sticks up This is a history book and on the UK & US. for the road rights of cyclists in ook download It will be available as FREE e-b able to buy on in 2012 as well as being avail

A book idea by

Motoring caught on more quickly in the early 1900s because of Good Roads campaigns by cyclists in the 1890s





In 1924, the Ford Motor Company said drivers had kick-started the movement for better roads.

Pioneer motorists knew how to push for good roads. They knew this because they had been cyclists first.


‘Roads Were Not Built For Cars’ will be a history of the Good Roads movement in the US and a very similar movement in Great Britain. Both movements were created by cyclists in the 1880s, long before the motorcar came along.


The Bicycling Boom of the 1890s was followed by Motoring Mania in the early 1900s and many of the individuals who had been influential in cycling went on to become influential in motoring. Without their experience of lobbying during their years as cyclists, the pioneer motorists wouldn’t have been able to hit the ground running. Cycling had a far bigger role in the creation of better roads than many people today imagine. The early motorists wrote of the debt that was owed to cyclists and this legacy is uncovered in ‘Roads Were Not Built for Cars’.

“What the bicyclist did for roads, between 1888 and 1900, was to rehabilitate through traffic, and accustom us all to the idea of our highways being used by other than local residents. It was the bicyclist who brought the road once more into popular use for pleasure riding; who made people away both of the charm of the English Highway and of the extraordinary local differences in the standards of road maintenance and who caused us to realise that the administration, even of local byways, was not a matter that concerned each locality only, but one which the whole nation had an abiding interest.” BEATRICE & SIDNEY WEBB The Story of the King’s Highway (1913)

Supported by the Chartered Institute of Highways & Transportation and the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund



From “wicked ways” and “foundrous highways” to the Rebecca Riots. John Loudin McAdam – The Colossus of Roads and from whence we get the name Tarmac – owned a tar factory but never thought to bind his “solid” roads with tar. Asphalt is not a new building material, it was widely used in antiquity. The Egyptians used the stuff in their death rituals: the Egyptian word for ‘mummification’ was derived from ‘asphaltos’. Henry Ford’s Model T (“any color you like so long as it’s black”) had a direct connection to asphalt, it was what made his paint black. ROMANTIC ROADS: HIGHWAYS IN 19TH CENTURY LITERATURE

“..the road through that delightful town is beyond dispute the vilest in the world, a mere tumult of road metal, a way of peaks and precipices...” H. G. Wells. THE POLITICAL INFLUENCE OF CYCLISTS, 1880-1902

Royals and aristrocrats were members of Britain’s Cyclists’ Touring Club, and in America in the 1890s, the ‘bicycling bloc’ was courted in order to successfully elect the President of the United States. The League of American Wheelmen was the only lobbying group to have its own room at the 1896 campaign HQ of the Republican party. CAST OF CHARACTERS

The Bicycling Boom of the 1890s was followed by Motoring Mania in the early 1900s and many of the individuals who had been influential in cycling went on to become influential in motoring. In the US, General Stone, Horatio Earle, Edward Hines and Albert Pope helped make the League of American Wheelmen into a formidable, nonpartisan political force and one that laid the foundations – sometimes literally – for the US highway system. In the UK, William Rees Jeffreys came from a cycling background and helped create our modern road administration. (due online soon)



Albert Pope, bicycle maker, and cofounder of the League of American Wheelmen. His advertising campaigns and political lobbying efforts were ground-breaking.

“Letters from readers [of Sunday newspapers] saying cyclists ought not to be allowed to use the roads, which, as everybody knew, were provided for people to walk on or drive on behind horses. ‘Bicyclists ought to have roads to themselves, like railway trains’ was the general opinion.” Flora Thompson Lark Rise to Candleford




Motorists assume the roads were built for them, but it was cyclists who first lobbied for smoother, harder, faster roads 19TH CENTURY CYCLISTS PAVED THE WAY FOR BETTER ROADS

Wooden hobbyhorses evolved into velocipedes; velocipedes evolved into safety bicycles; safety bicycles evolved into automobiles. I t ’s w e l l k n o w n t h a t t h e automotive industry grew from seeds planted in the fertile soil that was the late 19th century bicycle market. And to many motorists it’s back in the 19th century that bicycles belong. Cars are deemed to be modern; bicycles are Victorian. Many motorists also assume that roads were built for them. In fact, cars are the johnnycome-latelies of highways. The hard, flat road surfaces we take for granted are relatively new. Asphalt surfaces weren't widespread until the 1930s. So, are motorists to thank for this smoothness? No. The improvement of roads was first lobbied for – and paid for – by cycling organisations. In the UK and the US, cyclists lobbied for better road surfaces for a full 30 years before motoring organisations did the same. Cyclists were ahead of their time.

When railways took off from the 1840s, the coaching trade died, leaving roads almost unused and in poor condition. Cyclists were the first vehicle operators in a generation to go on long journeys, town to town. Cyclists helped save many roads from being grubbed up. Rural roads were unsurfaced and would be the colour of the local stone. Many 19th century authors waxed lyrical about the varied and beautiful colours of British roads. C y c l i n g org anisations, such as Cyclists’ Touring Club in the UK and League of A m e r i c a n Wheelmen (LAW) in the US, lobbied county surveyors and politicians to build better roads. The US Good Roads movement, set up by LAW, was highly influential. LAW once had the then US president turn up at its annual general meeting. The CTC created the RIA in 1885 and, in 1886, organised the first ever Roads Conference in Britain. With patronage – and cash – from aristocrats and royals, the CTC

published pamphlets on road design and how to create better road surfaces. County surveyors took this on board (some were CTC members) and started to improve local roads. Even though it was started and paid for by cyclists, the RIA stressed from its foundation that it was lobbying for better roads to be used by all, not just cyclists. By the early 1900s most British motorists had forgotten about the debt they owed to prehistoric track builders, the Romans, turnpike trusts, John McAdam, Thomas Telford and bicyclists. Before even one road had been built with motorcars in mind, motorists assumed the mantle of overlords of the road. A satirical verse in Punch magazine of 1907 summed up this attitude from some drivers: “The roads were made for me; years ago they were made. Wise rulers saw me coming and made roads. Now that I am come they go on making roads – making them up. I dislocate the traffic. But I am the Traffic.” (due online soon)




The US Good Roads movement agitated for change EFFECTIVE POLITICAL LOBBYING Created by the League of American Wheelmen in 1880, the Good Roads movement was a national campaign to improve America’s roads. Petitions we re o rg a n i s e d and pamphlets were printed. Cyclists became effective political campaigners and demonstrated how improved roads would be good for commerce, good for agriculture and good for recreation (of the self-propelled variety). Better rural roads would benefit farmers and improved urban roads would lead to cleaner, more hygenic towns and cities (horse manure was – literally – piling up and causing health problems). In San Francisco, a demonstration for better roads, organised by LAW in July 1896, saw 100,000 citizens take to the streets. T h e L AW ’s ‘ G o o d Roads’ magazine had a circulation in excess of a million.

Many academics today argue that the piecemeal improvement of roads before automobile interests took over is evidence that cyclists had little long term impact on the quality of roads. Not so. The local and national legislative structures put in place by cyclists were later used to g reat effect by pioneer American motorists, many of whom had been cyclists long before they were automobilists: men such as Horatio Earle, Albert Pope, Edward Hines, and General Stone. Had these influential figures not spent many years lobbying for good roads when they were cyclists, they would not have been as well equipped when it came to lobbying on behalf of the automobile. Pioneer motorists knew how to push for good roads. They knew this because they had been cyclists first.

Button from the McKinley presidential campaign of 1896 (due online soon)

“I often hear that the automobile is the parent of good roads. Well, the truth is, the bicycle is the father of good roads.” Horatio Earle, 1929

HORATIO EARLE: Chief Consul, League of American Wheelmen Michigan division, 1898-1906. In 1905 Earle introduced legislation which created a State Highway Department: he was the first Commissioner. This Department is now the Michigan Department of Transportation. Earle is known as the ‘Father of Good Roads’


Britain’s first road champion Former British Prime Minister Lloyd George said William Rees Jeffreys was “the greatest authority on roads in the United Kingdom and one of the greatest in the whole world.” Rees Jeffreys was the first secretary of the Roads Board, founded in 1910. This was the first central authority for roads in Great Britain since the Romans. The Roads Board later became part of the newlyformed Ministry of Transport. Rees Jeffreys is known today as an arch motorist, one of the first people to advocate for motorways, but Rees Jeffreys had started his 50 year career in the improvement of what he called “despaired and neglected roads” as a cyclist. In 1900 he was elected a member of the Council of the Cyclists’ Touring Club and was a representative on the Council of the Roads Improvement Association, an organisation founded by the CTC in 1886. Rees Jeffreys was Secretary of the RIA by 1901 and argued that the organisation should reign back its pamphleteering of country surveyors and should instead focus on political lobbying: he wanted the CTC to push for a “a Central Highway Authority and a State grant for highway purposes.” Cyclists wanted better road surfaces. They lobbied for smoother surfaces and for “dustless” roads. Rees Jeffreys became an advocate for spreading tar on Britain's roads. He wrote: “In 1902 I went to Geneva as the representative of the Cyclists’ Touring Club at the Annual Congress of the International League of Touring Associations. M. Charbonnier, Cantonal Engineers of Geneva, showed me an experiment he was making with hot tar on the road between Geneva and Lausanne.”



“Cyclists were the class first to take a national interest in the conditions of the roads.” Rees Jeffreys, 1949 Five y e a r s later, Rees Jeffreys and the RIA organised competitions t o fi n d t a r - s p r e a d i n g machines. The roads of Great Britain were g radually capped with asphalt. The work started Pioneer motorists had very often been cyclists first by cyclists led to solid, sealed roads from coast to coast; roads which helped motoring become first a mania and then a form of mass transport. Sealed roads are taken for granted now but the work of the CTC’s Road “The conception Improvements Association – and influential of the figures such as Rees Jeffreys – led not just to construction of swifter, cross country travel but created wide, new roads health benefits, too. “It is not only difficult, it is impossible, in this country is for the present generation to appreciate due to Mr. W. what their parents and grandparents Rees Jeffreys…” suffered from dust and mud,” wrote Rees H. Percy Jeffreys. “Not only were houses made Boulnois, City distressingly uncomfortable by dust, but Engineer of household work was increased greatly by Liverpool, letter the mud and dust which children brought in The Surveyor, into the house on boots and clothes. The 1925 dust cased many ailments and diseases of the eyes, nose and throat. “Few reforms brought so much direct benefit to the people as a whole as that which in so few years made the British roads dustless.” Reforms started by cyclists. (due online soon)





To be available as a FREE e-book and supporting website. Book will be available in 2012.

The contribution of cyclists to our modern roads should be more widely known about.

Cover mock-up features a painting owned by the Detroit Historical Society


It’s assumed that roads were made for motorists. Much less well known is the pivotal role that cyclists played in the history of roads, long before the car came along. This book redresses the balance, revealing a critical part of highway history. How come it’s free? The project is paid for via advertising and sponsorship. This allows the book to be distributed as an e-book for no charge. It will therefore reach a massive audience. FUNDING TO MAKE THE BOOK FREE

‘Roads Were Not Built For Cars’ received research grants from the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund and the Chartered Institute of H i g h w ay s a n d Tr a n s p o r t at i o n . B i k e companies are also playing their part in getting this important book out there. NICHE TITLE FOR THE MASS MARKET

Carlton Reid knows how to do viral. His ‘Bike to Work Book’ was downloaded in excess of 300,000 times. That was also free and was also supported by trade advertising. ‘Roads Were Not Built For Cars’ may be free but it’s very high quality, with two years’ worth of research, including trips to the USA.

With funding, ‘Roads Were Not Built for Cars’ will be available in 2012 as a free e-book for Kindles and iPads. Versions of the book will also be available on as paid-for print books.

CONTACT: Tel: +44 191 285 4408


ALBERT R E ID T e l: + 4 4 191 2854 408 a lb e rt re id @ m a c .c o m





Roads Were Not Built For Cars  

Plans for a free e-book on roads history.

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