Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on July 3rd, 2015 at 1:33 pm
Sometime in the 1920s, the American auto industry worked very hard and very consciously to achieve a great victory: they successfully associated their product with freedom.
As documented by history professor Peter Norton’s 2008 book Fighting Traffic (and many links over the years in BikePortland’s Monday Roundup), many Americans — maybe most of them — didn’t see this as a blow in favor of freedom; just the opposite. They saw it as a takeover of city streets. Even in a world where many more people died of disease and violence than they do today, the public was shocked by the notion that a person’s freedom to zoom down a street could be more important than a child’s freedom to play in it.