This entry was posted on Monday, February 8th, 2010 at 2:10 pm and is filed under Bad motoring, Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle history. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
“Once allow us to be put on separate roads and there will be an increasing outcry to keep us to those roads and to forbid us access to the ordinary roads of the country.”
Who said that? When did he say it and what was he referring to?
Opposition from a president of the CTC in 1878 to compulsory cycle paths, perhaps? Wrong.
A complaint from the Self Propelled Traffic Association of 1895? Nope.
Mind-blowingly, it’s by William Joynson-Hicks, writing in the Motor Union’s Journal in 1909. Joynson-Hicks, a Conservative MP petrolhead was Minister for Health, 1923-4 and Home Secretary, 1924-29.
It’s amazing to realise that motorists once had the same fears as cyclists today; that they’d be shunted off to a hinterland, segregated from other road users.
The Joynson-Hicks quote - and many other little nuggets of history - has come from my researches for iPayRoadTax.com. I’m working on a timeline of road funding, starting with the Roads Improvement Association, an organisation founded in 1886 by the Cyclists’ Touring Club and the National Cyclists’ Union.
The RIA wanted Britain’s dusty roads to be sealed with tarmac. The organisation pamphleted MPs and presented a strong case from “cads on casters” (the Lycra Lout equivalent of the late 19 Century, a reference to cyclists coined by uppercrust horse-riders) but the issue wasn’t taken seriously until adopted by the nascent ‘automobilism’ lobby.
Part of this lobby was the Self Propelled Traffic Association. It wasn’t self propelled in the sense we know today, it was in the sense of propelled by an engine, not a horse. A prominent cyclist sat on the SPTA’s council: E. R Shipton, secretary of the Cyclists’ Touring Club.
The SPTA was one of the organisations later to merge into the Automobile Association (AA), founded in 1905.
Edmund King, the AA’s current president is a cyclist: he often tweets about rides on his Whyte MTB.
Cycling also shares some history with the AA. In effect, the organisation was helped into existence by cyclists. In March 1905 a fellow called Walter Gibbons wrote to Autocar magazine suggesting a Motorists’ Protection Association for the Prevention of Police Traps. Two other motorists replied saying arrangements had been made to patrol the Brighton road to warn motorists of said police traps. The first patrols went out in April 1905. Guess what they used as patrol vehicles? Yep, bicycles.
Within months, this informal arrangement of a “special staff of cyclists” was formalised into an organisation and it appointed a full-time secretary: it was called the Automobile Association.