Resurrecting the Forgotten Bike Highways of 1930s Britain
The United Kingdom built hundreds of miles of protected bike lanes and promptly forgot about them.
In the 1930s, Britain’s Ministry of Transport built an extensive network of bike highways around the country. At least 280 miles of paved, protected infrastructure dedicated to cyclists alone. For decades, it was entirely forgotten, overgrown and overlooked. So much so that no one seems to remember that these lanes had existed at all.
“There’s all this infrastructure, it’s been there for 80 years, and nobody knows what it was,” says Carlton Reid, author of the forthcoming book Bike Boom. Reid, who’s been a cycling journalist and historian for 30 years, rediscovered the network while researching his book. Now he’s teaming up with an urban planner to reveal the full extent of Britain’s historic cycleways.
Before starting research on the book, Reid knew of the existence of a handful of ‘30s-era bike lanes. But when he started studying the decade’s road-building policies, he found archival maps showing that as new arterial roads were built, they all had cycleways installed beside them. “Every one I looked at showed that there were cycleways built,” he said. “It was clear that there were far more than anyone had understood.”
Source: Atlas Obscura