I’m writing a book about roads history. I’m focussing on the period 1880-1905, which saw the Bicycling Boom and then – pop – the start of Motoring Mania.
You can learn more about this e-book in the eight-page pitch below. Click to open the book in page-turning mode. (If you’re accessing this site from an iPad, you’ll see a big white gap, click on the iPad-specific link instead). The e-book will be free: it’s paid for by grants and advertising from bike companies. If you want to get updates on the book, pop your email in the sidebar box on the right or at the base of this page.
I chose the free distribution model in order to get the book seen by as many eyes as possible. You may know that Victorian cyclists did an awful lot to rehabilitate the use of roads – and helped to get them sealed, too – but this isn’t terribly well known outside of cycling. I’d like to change that. Producing a print book would make me more money but it restricts readership.
The book sprang from the ‘history of the Road Fund’ research I did for iPayRoadTax.com. I then happened upon characters such as William Rees Jeffreys, an official with the CTC who started his 50 year career in getting better roads in Britain as a cyclist and who never forgot his roots.
In a 1949 book he wrote:
“Cyclists were the class first to take a national interest in the conditions of the roads.”
Researching deeper and I found Rees Jeffreys wasn’t the only cyclist to have made a lasting impression on highways. In the US, the Good Roads movement was a nationally significant political force. Without 30 years of campaigning by cyclists it’s fair to say motoring wouldn’t have hit the ground running.
If I can rehabilitate some of this history, and turn just a few peoples’ heads, I’ll be happy.
COVER IMAGE: The painting used on the front cover is by marine artist Seth Arca Whipple (1855-1901) and dates from around 1897. Permission to use the painting was granted by the Detroit Historical Society.