Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the American Road by James Longhurst

By James Longhurst

Americans were using motorcycles for greater than a century now. So why are such a lot American towns nonetheless so ill-prepared to address cyclists? James Longhurst, a historian and avid bike owner, tackles that question by way of tracing the contentious debates among American motorcycle riders, motorists, and pedestrians over the shared road.

Bike Battles explores the various ways in which american citizens have considered the bicycle via renowned songs, benefit badge pamphlets, advertisements, motion pictures, newspapers and sitcoms. these institutions formed the activities of presidency and the courts after they intervened in motorbike coverage via court cases, site visitors regulate, street development, taxation, rationing, import price lists, protection schooling and motorcycle lanes from the 1870s to the 1970s.

Today, biking in American city facilities continues to be a problem as urban planners, political pundits, and citizens proceed to argue over motorcycle lanes, bike-share courses, legislations enforcement, sustainability, and public defense. Combining interesting new study from a variety of assets with a real ardour for the subject, Longhurst exhibits us that those battles are not anything new; in truth they are easily a continuation of the unique conflict over who is―and isn't―welcome on our roads.

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Get out of the Road! » 31 The association with a male elite was rooted in the extreme nature of the high-wheel: dangerously prone to overturning, with a steep learning curve and little in the way of creature comforts for its rider, the bicycle of the 1870s and 1880s tempted male riders to demonstrate feats of bravery, strength, and pigheadedness.  . ”18 All of these associations were manifested in the activities of the League of American Wheelmen (LAW), a national advocacy, social, and racing organization with local chapters.

A driver in Nacogdoches, Texas, made the same point more strongly in 2008, in an all-too-common scene. Two cyclists were riding down the street “when a vehicle passed them and the occupants yelled at them to get out of the road,” noted the police blotter. ”2 These present-day disagreements are just the most recent incarnations of long-running battles between road users with each new incumbent telling the previous generation to get out of the road. But all of these actors make assumptions that belie the fundamental legal principle of the road.

Under the legal principle of stare decisis, these early decisions—whether in the United States or across the Atlantic—set precedents that all later courtroom findings would be required to at least address, if not follow. The first skirmish concerned long-established definitions of means of transport. Centuries before the invention of self-propelled wheeled contraptions, courts defined what human-powered or animal-drawn constructs—described as vehicles—were legally permitted on the road. But before the word vehicle became popularly associated with a powered, enclosed contraption for movement, it was used to describe all manner of mechanisms for transport of things and people.

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