• The Good Roads Movement

    by  • May 31, 2011 • Education, Events • 0 Comments

     
    I wonder how many motorists are even remotely aware of this?
    Good Roads Movement
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The Good Roads Movement occurred in the United States between 1880 and 1916. Advocates for improved roads led by bicyclists turned local agitation into a national political movement.
     
    Outside cities, roads were dirt or gravel; mud in the winter and dust in the summer. Early organizers cited Europe where road construction and maintenance was supported by national and local governments. In its early years, the main goal of the movement was education for road building in rural areas between cities and to help rural populations gain the social and economic benefits enjoyed by cities where citizens benefited from railroads, trolleys and paved streets. Another important motivation was they wanted to ride their bicycles on good country roads.
     
    The Good Roads Movement was founded in May 1880, when bicycle enthusiasts, riding clubs and manufacturers met in Newport, Rhode Island to form the League of American Wheelmen to support the burgeoning use of bicycles and to protect their interests from legislative discrimination. The League quickly went national and in 1891 began publishing Good Roads Magazine. In three years circulation reached a million. Early movement advocates enlisted the help of journalists, farmers, politicians and engineers in the project of improving the nation’s roadways, but the movement took off when it was adopted by bicyclists.
     
    Groups across the country held road conventions and public demonstrations, published material on the benefits of good roads and endeavoured to influence legislators on local, state and national levels. Good road advocates involved themselves in local politics. Support for candidates often became crucial factors in elections. Not only advocating road improvements for bicyclists, the League pressed the idea to farmers and rural communities, publishing literature such as the famous pamphlet, “The Gospel of Good Roads”.
     
    At the turn of the twentieth century, interest in the bicycle began to wane in the face of increasing interest in automobiles. Other groups took the lead in the Good Roads Movement. As the automobile was developed and gained momentum, organizations developed such cross-county projects as the coast-to-coast east–west Lincoln Highway 1913, headed by auto parts and auto racing magnate Carl G. Fisher, and later his north–south Dixie Highway 1915, which extended from Canada to Miami, Florida.
     
    Horatio Earle is known as the “Father of Good Roads.” Quoting from Earle’s 1929 autobiography: “I often hear now-a-days, the automobile instigated good roads; that the automobile is the parent of good roads. Well, the truth is, the bicycle is the father of the good roads movement in this country”. “The League fought for the privilege of building bicycle paths along the side of public highways”. “The League fought for equal privileges with horse-drawn vehicles. All these battles were won and the bicyclist was accorded equal rights with other users of highways and streets”.

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