'Roads Were Not Built For Cars' argues that motorists owe a great deal to the cyclists of the 1890s. E-book could go viral.

Road rights history book seeks commercial backers

BikeBiz executive editor Carlton Reid is the author of the provocatively-titled ‘Roads Were Not Built for Cars’, slated for publication in 2012. The book deals with the history of roads, and how cyclists were responsible for many of the carriageway improvements that were later assumed to have been provided for motorists.

30 years before motorists campaigned for better roads, the Cyclists’ Touring Club had created the Roads Improvement Association. This lobbied country surveyors to build better roads, organised tar-spreading trials and – later – would be responsible for the first central roads administration body in Britain since Roman times.

In the US there was an even more influential campaign: the Good Roads movement, created by the League of American Wheelmen. In the 1896 presidential race, LAW was the only organisation to have its own room at the Republican campaign HQ. 

Reid said: "Today, few motorists in the US or the UK know anything about any of this heritage or how ‘their’ roads are anything but. Cars are the johnny-come-latelies of highways."

The research for the book – almost two years’ worth of research – was paid for by grants from the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund and the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation. The book has also been endorsed by Edmund King, president of the Automobile Association.

To allow the book to be available free of charge as an e-book for Kindles and iPads, Reid is seeking commercial partners from the bike industry. His previous e-book – the Bike to Work Book – has had in excess of 300,000 downloads.

"I think this book will also go viral," said Reid. "The subject matter strikes a chord with a lot of cyclists. Roads aren’t just for cars."

The book has an eight-page promo online and a sign-up page on RoadsWereNotBuiltForCars.com for info when the book is published. The first full-page ad was bought by Stuart Dinsey of Intent Media, publisher of BikeBiz.

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