STCC Bike Month Facts #1 League of American Bicyclists

It may surprise you to know that the first paved highway systems in the United States were developed not for cars, but for bicycles.  If it were not for the efforts of the League of American Wheelmen (now the League of American Bicyclists), we wouldn’t have the great transportation system that is in place today.

The already popular bicycle was being mass produced by the 1890's and had become the mode of transportation for many that would benefit greatly from an improved roads system.  In the 1870's through the 1890's the Good Roads Movement took hold in the US, promoting the replacement of dirt, gravel and mud roads across the country to a system of improved highways constructed of graded rock bound together with water, supported and maintained by the government.  This movement was founded and driven by the League of American Wheelmen.  The League published and distributed a famous pamphlet entitled "The Gospel of Good Roads: A Letter to the American Farmer (1891)".  This very quickly morphed into the magazine “The Gospel of Good Roads”.  To give you an idea of the popularity of the bicycle and this movement, in 1895, only the third year of publication, there were over one million subscribers across the country.

Can you imagine the first “Share the Road” discussions, with cyclists complaining of the nuisance that these new fangled gadgets (automobiles) brought to their commute?  And did you notice the short version of the League of American Wheelmen is "LAW"?

These write-ups are supposed to be brief, so if you want more, check out some of the links below.  Just remember, during National Bike Month – as best said by Horatio Earle from his autobiography:

" 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."

Upcoming eBook (Roads Were Not Built for Cars)

Good Roads Movement Wikipedia

Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

League of American Bicyclists

The Gospel of Good Roads (free eBook download)

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