Roads Were Not Built For Cars

Front cover of 'Roads Were Not Built For Cars'

Front cover of ‘Roads Were Not Built For Cars’

Jesmond resident Carlton Reid is paving the way for cyclists’ recognition around Jesmond and the world with his new book, ‘Roads Were Not Built For Cars’.

It appears to be a popular sentiment: Reid’s Kickstarter campaign, launched on March 21st, managed to collect the £4,000 needed to publish his book within 20 hours – and raised £13,000 more. The aim is to release it in August this year.

‘Roads Were Not Built For Cars’ will shed a light on the history of roads, Reid says, and re-introduce the notion that motorists were not the main reason roads were built in the first place.

Reid notes that “many influential and arch motorists, in fact, started their professional lives as officials in cycling organisations. The ‘DNA’ of the first motorcars owed more to bicycles than horse and carriage technology. I want to uncover all of this hidden history,” he says of the book’s narrative.

When asked what motivated to Carlton to write the book in the first place, he told JesmondLocal  that “as a regular cyclist I’ve sometimes been on the receiving end of comments such as ‘get off the road’ or ‘get a car.’ As a historian with an interest in cycling and motoring of the 1890s, I know such sentiments grew up in the early days of motoring, with the belief that roads were provided solely for motorists very quickly impinging on the highway access rights of users who preceded motorists, such as pedestrians, animal drovers and cyclists.”

Carlton Reid during his research in the USA

Carlton Reid during his research in the USA

The book ties in with recent discussions on ‘shared space’ initiatives on Acorn Road and debates over cycle lane expansion in Jesmond. Reid has his own opinion on Acorn Road, believing it “a total mess, dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.” He also goes on to say that “it would make a fine pedestrian plaza, with bicycle access. Traders need not worry. When other streets have closed to motorised traffic, footfall and customer spend increases.”

Jesmond is regularly referenced in the book as Reid believes that “much more needs to be done” here. “The 20mph speed limits are fine in theory but in practice motorists routinely exceed them and the police don’t do anything about this. This has to change.”

Overall, Roads Were Not Built For Cars addresses a question which Reid poses himself: “Will cars dominate the roads forever?” The book attempts to answer the question with an overarching idea that “history shows that nothing stands still.”

To find out more about the book visit

Reid has released an exclusive excerpt from the book, focussing on Jesmond. You can read it at