Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the American Road by James Longhurst

By James Longhurst

American citizens were driving motorcycles for greater than a century now. So why are so much American towns nonetheless so ill-prepared to deal with cyclists? James Longhurst, a historian and avid bike owner, tackles that question by means of tracing the contentious debates among American motorbike riders, motorists, and pedestrians over the shared road.

Bike Battles explores different ways in which americans have considered the bicycle via renowned songs, advantage badge pamphlets, ads, movies, newspapers and sitcoms. these institutions formed the activities of presidency and the courts after they intervened in motorcycle coverage via court cases, site visitors keep watch over, highway construction, taxation, rationing, import price lists, security schooling and motorbike lanes from the 1870s to the 1970s.

Today, biking in American city facilities is still a problem as urban planners, political pundits, and citizens proceed to argue over motorcycle lanes, bike-share courses, legislations enforcement, sustainability, and public safeguard. Combining attention-grabbing new study from quite a lot of resources with a real ardour for the subject, Longhurst exhibits us that those battles are not anything new; in reality they are easily a continuation of the unique conflict over who is―and isn't―welcome on our roads.

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14 The cost of the high-wheeler was substantial, though prices came down slowly during the 1880s. 15 The high price of the ordinary served to exclude the lower classes: “It is for the best that the wheel is something not within the easy reach of all,” one rider wrote in The Wheelman. ” High prices, he argued, smoothed the way for those who could afford bikes: “How many road courtesies would be observed if the new vehicle had found its way into the hands of all classes? ” Speaking as a highly educated and moral leader, he declared of the bicycle: “There is nothing ‘common or unclean’ about it.

Fargo began when the plaintiff rode his bike on the sidewalk on an October day in 1899 but suffered an accident when his wheel fell in a hole. ” Since the city council had not explicitly exercised its authority to ban bicycles from the particular section of sidewalk where Gagnier had ridden, he could sue the city for negligence for not maintaining the sidewalk. In a final wrinkle, the court pointed out the result of this logic: the city did not have to look out for cyclists’ needs if they were riding somewhere they fundamentally should not.

Another writer notes that “urban bicyclists have an image problem. K. ,” concedes that “every time I drive my car through San Francisco, I see cyclists running stop signs like immortal, entitled fools. ” 27 The bike boom and backlash have been even more pronounced in the United Kingdom, Australia, and cash-strapped parts of continental Europe. Italy has reported record-breaking declines in auto sales and concomitant increases in bicycle sales. In London, the increase in cycling might yet lead to dreams of a cycling utopia: “Supporters of ‘Peak-Car’ theory see a future in which the inner cities are given over to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport, and café culture replaces car culture,” wrote a London Times jour- Introduction » 19 nalist in 2012.

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