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Book charting how cyclists were the driving force behind roads and motorists sells out in hardback

Carlton Reid's work still available in e-reader and softback editions - and will be free online from next year...

A book exploring how cyclists were the first group in a generation to use roads and were the first to push for high-quality sealed surfaces and were the first to lobby for national funding and leadership for roads has sold out out in hardback form before even hitting the shelves.

Carlton Reid’s book Roads Were Not Built For Cars was published in just 50 hardback copies, all of which sold out before they were to be shipped on Tuesday.
200 or so paperbacks are still available, making them something of a collector’s item, as there is no plan to print more.

However the multimedia iPad publication and other digital editions are freely available from next week (there’s a preview here).

The second edition of the book will be available on Amazon eventually but the first edition will only be available direct from Carlton at his website.

And there is another way to read it, as Carlton explains: “A great many historians – social and automotive – have dismissed the role of cyclists in the history of roads and of motoring.

“This is a historical wrong I want to right. I want my research to be available to as many people as possible so I plan to publish every single word of the book for free online.

“A PDF will go online early next year. It won't contain illustrations but it'll probably contain the 90,000-word notes section. I'm placing the full text online so it's searchable by Google and available to academics.”

The book was marketed on Kickstarter in April 2013, with a target for fundraising of £4,000. It eventually raised £17,000.

Carlton said: “Before the Kickstarter campaign I wondered whether anybody would want to pay for a book about 19th Century cyclists changing the world for the better.

“With £17,000 raised... I found out there was demand for the information.

“Now nearly four years in gestation the book has taken a lot longer to research, write and publish than I thought it would.

“This is mainly because I span off at tangents, finding new areas to explore, digging out deeper and more convincing evidence to show that cyclists had far more influence on government road policies than previously thought.

“Not just previously thought by the public at large, but by social history and transport academics, too.”

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oliverjames | 9 years ago

An interesting book. How unfortunate then that the roads today are built for cars. More particularly, how disappointing that the regulation regarding cycle path construction does not seem to require the same degree of flatness as does road construction.

Cycle paths delineated by lines at roadsides also suffer because gravel, rubbish and occasionally, broken glass, are displaced there by passing motor vehicles. Local councils appear to ignore the need for regularly cleaning these bike lanes.

freespirit1 | 9 years ago

What did the Romans ever do for us then?

Carlton Reid replied to freespirit1 | 9 years ago
leqin | 9 years ago

Hope my hardback arrives eventually - now if it just arrived by bike that would be cool  1

I missed the Kickstarter, but I have been looking forward to owning Carlton's book and reading it ever since I paid my first visit to simply because the amount of detail in every posting he's made has been a enthralling read - so when his email arrived on the 10th I placed my order for the hardback asap, so fingers crossed I managed to grab one before they sold out.

In the record of cycling history I hope 'Roads Were Not Built For Cars' turns out to be a fantastic contribution from one of cycling's greatest supporters... oh and you lot should all buy a copy from the second print run if you didn't get one off the first.

Carlton Reid | 9 years ago

Thanks Sarah and

Can I just make a few clarifications? I originally ordered 100 hardbacks and 1000 softbacks. So, 100 hardbacks were sold out straight away, including those which were part of the original Kickstarter. I'm now very close to a sell-out on the softbacks.

I printed a conservative amount because I wasn't sure that the books would sell, especially as they have "academic-style" prices (i.e. high costs cos of low print run). Sweetly, I've been proved wrong.

I now plan to print more. I shall be placing an order with the printer as soon as the books have arrived on Wednesday. I'll be getting the same amount again.

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