UWSP presentation will give historical context to modern struggles over bicycle accommodations

UW-Stevens Point is hosting a presentation this Wednesday that will discuss why most American cities are still so ill-prepared to accommodate transportation bicycling.

James Longhurst, a historian of urban and environmental policy at UW-La Crosse, is the author of the recently published book Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the American Road. His presentation, entitled “Revenge of Sprocketman: Urban Sustainability and Disappointment in 1970’s Bike Battles”, will focus on how the 1970’s bikeways movement shaped current debates over sustainable transportation.

The presentation will take place Wednesday April 6 at 6 PM in room 116 of the College of Professional Studies (CPS) building, 1901 Fourth Ave, on the UWSP campus. This presentation is free of charge, and all members of the public are welcome to attend.

UWSP Bike Battles poster

Poster advertising the James Longhurst presentation at UWSP on Wednesday

This event is sponsored by College of Letters and Science, Department of History and International Studies, Center for Land Use Education, School of Health Promotion and Human Development, and Department of Political Science.

Here is a brief abstract of Bike Battles provided by Longhurst that provides some context on what to expect from his presentation:

Across the nation, we know it’s sometimes politically difficult to talk about adding bicycle lanes and paths.  But that’s partly so because we’ve forgotten a lot of bicycle history, including 1870s courtroom drama, the existence of an entire bicycle transportation network in the 1890s, the continuation of practical cycling into the 1930s, the strategic importance of the bike in WWII, the impact of suburbanization and postwar Japanese export policy, and the conflict over the return of the bicycle in the 1970s. Taking another look at this forgotten history shows us the importance of a series of forgotten legal and policy decisions that constrain our present-day choices about bicycles as transportation.  And understanding the many ways that Americans thought about the bicycle help explains those choices over time.

More information about Bike Battles can be found on this website.

I encourage Poky Pedalers to attend Longhurst’s presentation. Understanding the history of how bicycles have historically been treated as part of the transportation network in the United States is useful when advocating for better bicycling today. (Unfortunately, I will miss this presentation myself as I will be in California next week.)

Longhurst has spoken to audiences from Portland, OR to Washington, DC. Stevens Point is fortunate to have him visit and share his knowledge of the historical context behind transportation bicycling. Poky Pedalers can look forward to a stimulating and entertaining presentation from Longhurst this Wednesday.

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