Velo Vision review of Roads Were Not Built For Cars
Roads were not made [sic] for Cars
In this book we discover how cycling helped get us to the situation that we have on the roads today, from the tarmac itself through to the vehicles upon it.
I don’t believe that there has ever been a more thorough explanation of firstly why roads are now seen as being purely for transport use; secondly why the needs of motor transport have priority over any other consideration; and thirdly the role that bicycles have played. Motorists and cyclists may often see themselves as ‘two tribes’ now, but they share a lot more history than you might expect.
This book will give you plenty to ponder as you go about your everyday business on a bike or in a car, and it gives hope that things
can change. Many of the same issues that we encounter today have appeared in different forms before, and no doubt will appear
again. The answer has normally been to change the infrastructure to accommodate the problem, rather than change the nature of
the problem. Similar arguments for and against road widening in order to alleviate traffic congestion have been around for as long as we have had roads, for example.
Naturally the Dutch model is held up as an example of what utility cycling, where they tackled the cause and not the result. In under a generation the Netherlands has evolved into a nation of people who use bicycles – which does not have to be the same as a nation of cyclists.
Looking to the future, the book questions whether motorways (‘cycle paths for cars’) could eventually suffer the same fall from
grace as railways if they become less relevant: it might seem inconceivable now, but this book reminds us that transport priorities can and do change, along with the building works required to support them.
There is a lot of information in this book, but the author has worked hard to make it clear and accessible. There is a good index and each chapter starts with a very condensed summary. By using a dedicated website to support the book, references and other explanatory material can be shown there rather than crowding the pages – and there certainly is a lot of additional material to be found on-line at www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com.
Will this book make you better informed about so much of what you encounter on the roads today? Yes, absolutely. Will you ever
get the chance to use your knowledge in a reasoned discussion between the ‘two tribes’? Probably not. But don’t let that stop you being prepared for such an opportunity.
Velo Vision, February 2015