In the 1890s, cities in the U.S. built hundreds of miles of “sidepaths” to accommodate the new bicycle. These were protected, separated paths on which bicycles could travel unimpeded by horse, buggy, and other late 19th century transportation.
UW-LaCrosse history professor James Longhurst came to Ben’s Cycle Wednesday to tell stories from his new book, Bike Battles. The sidepaths, in a way the ancestor of the protected bike lane, were just one of the nuggets Longhurst has unearthed in his research on the bicycle.
Longhurst told historical stories, made some parallels to the modern shared city roads, and discussed how bicycle usage in the U.S. has ebbed and flowed throughout its 150 years of existence.
Milwaukee local bookseller Boswell Books co-promoted the event. Boswell staff reader Todd said this about Bike Battles:
Bike Battles, by James Longhurst (University of Washington Press, 3/18/15, $34.95, 9780295994680)
Read Bike Battles to be enlightened about the flip-flopping importance of the bicycle in the US since the late 19th century. Longhurst carefully documents various ‘battles’ for the road and, by the end, claims that transportation in common spaces is the most important, not what people drive (sic): cars or bikes. What does he think about skateboarders, though?
Todd Wellman, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
We got our copy of Bike Battles signed last night by Longhurst, and we’ve already read through the first chapter. So far a fascinating collection of stories!
We also had a chance to share the history of Ben’s Cycle, which has been owned by three generations of the Hanoski family in the same Milwaukee neighborhood since 1928.
Thanks to Milwaukee Brewing Company and Valentine Coffee Roasters for providing liquid refreshments!