Roads were not built for cars

Barcham 17 April 2013 2

So it’s not exactly Canberran (or even Australian) news, however arguing about cyclists on the road is one of Canberra’s favourite hobbys, so we think it fits.

Carlton Reid is releasing a free e-book later this year called “Roads Were Not Built for Cars“.

I expect all of us to pick up a copy when it’s released so we can argue about it later.

From the author’s article in the Guardian:

Motoring owes a great deal to cycling, something that will clearly come as a surprise to many motorists. In a video I produced to promote the book, I asked passers-by to tell me when a busy four-lane highway, in my home town of Newcastle, might have been built, and whom for. The answers boiled down to “the 1950s” and “old cars.” Jesmond Road might look and feel like an urban motorway – it’s a hostile place to ride a bike, or even walk beside – but it was built to the current width in 1838 and was only later retrofitted for cars. In the 1950s the road was dominated by trams, and not yet strangulated by privately owned cars.

In a strange way, this relatively recent history of the road gives me hope. If you’d have asked a Brit in the 1920s what form of transport would be dominating the streets 60 and 70 years in the future, not many people would have said hoverboards or that other fantastical luxury contraption, the motorcar. People would likely have said “trams”.

In the 1890s people would have said bicycles, trains and, thanks to futurists such as HG Wells, mechanical footways (the first one was built for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago). If the past is a different country, the future can often be more alien. The theory of Peak Car points to a future with a reduced need for those ugly, disfiguring ring roads that blight our cities (it was announced earlier this month that Leicester is to turn part of one of its motor-myopic gyratories into a two-way bike lane).

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2 Responses to Roads were not built for cars
gooterz gooterz 7:27 pm 17 Apr 13

Most roads were built for cattle.
Hence why a lot of older roads are quite wide and roads in the burbs now are 3 metres across.

Canberra built a bridge for a train and it fell down.

Canberra built roads for the cars and they’re constantly used.

Canberra will never be a bike city.

Judging by the wear the roads were never built for the buses either

Leon Leon 2:53 pm 17 Apr 13

“Jesmond Road … was built to the current width in 1838 and was only later retrofitted for cars.”

Jesmond Road must have been built for pedestrians and horses, and not for pedal cycles or motor cars that didn’t exist in 1838.

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