Category Archives: motor cars

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.”