Monthly Archives: November 2014

Roads were Not Built for Cars

Two years ago I posted about Carlton Reid’s research into the prehistory of motoring, and how it evolved from cycling.
I’m thrilled to at last have a copy of his book, completed at last.

From the Preface:
“Roads were not built for motorcars. By and large, they were built for pedestrians. That roads were allowed to be colonized by cars is not something that happened by accident, nor was it inevitable. Powered road-going vehicles existed before Carl Benz attached a gas explosion engine to a Coventry-inspired tricycle but, for many interlocking reasons, the earlier road steamers did not catch on, and it wasn’t for want of trying. Something different happened when Benz, Daimler and the other motor pioneers created the powered road-going vehicle that, eventually, caught on – or, rather, was allowed to catch on. Society, or at least the powerful parts of it, decided the fate of motor cars. The great majority of the Victorian public, with no prospect of owning them, hated motorcars, and this hatred continued, in some quarters, until the 1920s. Had more restrictions been placed in their way, motor cars would have evolved very differently – they may even have been stillborn. When motor cars arrived, it was the age of the train and, later, the tram. There was nothing inevitable about the acceptance of motoring. In the 1890s, very few people imagined motor cars would go on to dominate the world. That motor cars did so was partly due to cycling, and cyclists.”

Separated lanes at Queen’s Park


As fall approached, the ride around Queen’s park started to look different. Now you can move in relative safety from Harbord to Wellesley.

Other Cyclists III

I always thought that if I’m knocked off my bike, it was going to be a car. But it was another cyclist.
The Awful Effects of Velocipeding
I was crossing Bathurst at Adelaide on a green light when another cyclist tore through red and slammed into my bike as I crossed the street, fracturing my ribs, injuring my face, destroying my front wheel, breaking my glasses. I was too injured and shocked to get his name and number, and by the time I realized what had happened, he was gone. The crossing guard saw everything. I had witnesses; I had a victim, but no perpetrator. I phoned up repair shops to see if anyone had brought in a damaged bike fitting the description of the bike that had hit me. No luck. Then one of the bike shops suggested I call the police. Maybe they have cameras where I was hit.
The two officers who came to my house were very kind, very sympathetic. They explained to me that, even if I succeeded in locating the person who had injured me, there was nothing they could do. I could, of course, take him to small claims court. If I found him, would they lay charges? No, they told me, this is not considered a traffic accident, so it’s not a matter for the police. So aren’t bicycles traffic? No, apparently not. The reasons turned out to be quite convoluted; they had something to do with bicycles not having license plates. But I have witnesses who are prepared to testify that he rode through a red light when he hit me. That doesn’t matter. Police, it turns out, will only lay charges if they see this happen with their own eyes.