Google Streetview is Used to find Britain’s “Lost” 1930s-era Cycleways

You have to love technology, especially when it is used to study the history of the days before the technology was invented. One recent example is using Google Streetview to find miles and miles of “lost” British cycleways.

The Mickleham Bypass in Surrey

The following is an excerpt from an announcement from Carlton Reid:

A historian has used the spin-off from an American military mapping project to discover nearly 300 miles of “lost” British cycleways. These cycleways were installed beside British roads between 1934 and 1940, but were abandoned after the Second World War. Many were surfaced with red concrete, protected cyclists with kerbs and extended for many miles. They were commissioned by the Ministry of Transport and were built on both sides of the arterial roads constructed in the 1930s.

Author and historian Carlton Reid used archive sources to identify the likely locations for the cycleways, and then confirmed their existence not with field walks or even bike rides, but with Google Streetview.

“From the comfort of my desk I’ve been able to back-up my hunches by zooming in to the images provided by the Streetview cameras,” said Reid, who is funding further researches with a crowd-funding campaign.

“Some of the 1930s-era cycleways I’ve identified are either fully or partially buried, but most are above ground, in full view but they are not recognised for what they are, which is innovative-for-the-time cycle-specific infrastructure that’s more than 80-years-old,” said Reid.

You can read the full announcement at: http://bit.ly/2pXpfrv.

One Comment

The Depression Era time frame of these bike routes reinforces how practical bicycles are for basic transportation in marginal economic times. In the 19th century they were a unique alternative to walking, 4-legged hay-burners, and short train route modes of transportation. Yet, how quickly they seem to fall from favor when populations gain a little more spending cash (Post Ford model T & China’s new middle class!). Hopefully, today we are striking a new balance in transportation mode alternatives for better personal and environmental health for both cyclists and pedestrians by supporting organizations reclaiming abandoned railways, and those dedicated to developing national, state & local bike pathways.

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