Monday, December 14, 2009

Good Roads

For the most part, our roads are in pretty good shape. Of course there are roads in the Boston area that should be avoided when riding lightweight wheels, but in comparison to what it was like 150 years ago, our roads are fine.
The first cyclists back in the 1880's had to ride on all dirt, all the time. Its nice to get into the woods now and again, but it's also nice to have the choice. Back in the 1890's when it got muddy, it got muddy everywhere. and when it was dry, it got dusty. I once read in a 1890's League of American Wheelman Handbook, that warned that the south shore of Lake Cochituate should be avoided at all costs because of the deep sand. Back then the roads were only wide enough for a cart to pass. A rider would have to dismount his "Wheel" and pull to the side. Two lane roads in the country side were rare and generally not wide enough for a cyclist to be passed safely.
I remember years ago talking to a couple of older cyclists in their 80's about how much I loved riding my fixed gear Raleigh Golden Arrow. I told them that I road it everywhere! I even rode it in the woods and enjoyed every minute of it.
They both looked at me funny and one asked if I had ever done it on wooden rims, and told me that they didnt have paved roads when they were growing up!
The "Good Road Movement" was started by the League of American Wheelman, the nations oldest transportation organization, back in 1880. There weekly journal, "The L.A.W. Bulletin and Good Roads" offered $200.00 dollars in gold for photographs of poor road conditions. Each week they would have articles on how life would be improved with better roads. The moving of perishables such as milk and meat products were covered and how better roads would lead to better, healthier and cheaper living. Lead by Colonel Albert Pope and Horatio Earle,the LAW was the main lobbing group to improve road conditions here in the United States. The club is responsible for our safer roads today. Photographs of carts sunk up to there axle's in mud with spoiling food on its way to market were used to convince our government, the U.S. needed better road conditions.
Good paved roads for modern cycling are important. Although off road bicycle design has never been better, Light weight bicycles need smooth roads. Hitting a pot hole on a recumbent can be painful and could ruin a wheel or flat a tire. We have our fore fathers to thank for the development of good roads and because of them, lightweight bicycles.
The Good Road Movement was started by Cyclists. Drivers sometimes feel that bicycles don't belong on "their" roads when in fact they need to know, they are everyone's

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