Life Wherever the Automobile Congregates
An excerpt from the introduction to Bicycling the Backroads Around Puget Sound, 1973:
For the bicycling enthusiast some good things have been happening recently. For example, for the first time in over half a century, more bicycles than motor cars are being sold annually in the United States. Bicycling has suddenly become popular. Young people, particularly those with a concern for their environment, see the bicycle as practical transportation for short hauls. Adults are finding it a respectable vehicle for exercise, commuting, recreation and family fun.
The automobile in recent bouts with environmentalists and the government has not come off unscathed. A few years ago it seemed that the auto and its proponents could do no wrong. Now it is recognized universally as one of our chief polluters and major cause of degradation of our living environment…. A segment of the population…and a portion of government is questioning the utter domination of urban lives by the automobile—the ruin of the central cities, the sprawl of suburbia…the waste of fuel and other resources, the noise, smog and ugliness that follow the automobile wherever it congregates in large numbers.
It goes on in heartbreaking detail about “this hard look at the auto and the depressing future it is helping to create,” and about how citizens of the Pacific Northwest are demanding a better balance of transportation, looking at alternatives, and, of course, embracing our friend the bike. The good people of 1973 are advised to look to Europe as a model for cycling-friendly planning, paths, and drivers. The cartoon bicyclists depicted wear propeller beanies or crumpled fedoras—not a helmet or mention thereof in the entire book. A couple of rides tour the scenic Southcenter area (starting “at the base of the Southcenter sign pylon near Nordstom Best”). (My favorite part so far in this book my dear aunt just gave me is the note for the “Mileage Log” section for a ride around Index, Washington: “You don’t need one; you can’t get lost.”)