Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Streetsblog

Remembering How the Roads Got Paved

Today from the Streetsblog Network, a look back at the early days of paved roads in the United States and the vehicle operators who led the way for their paving. The vehicles some of these men were operating, as Detroit's  M-Bike.org reminds us, were bicycles:

IMG_3039_300x225.jpgWhat's missing from this cake?

The Woodward Avenue Action Association
(WA3) had a ceremony today to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the world’s first mile of concrete highway. That first mile was Woodward Avenue from McNichols to Seven Mile Road in Detroit. It was just 18 feet wide.

This historic milestone was very much the result of decades of tireless work, often led by bicyclists such as Horatio “Good Roads” Earle and Edward Hines...

Hines, former chief consul for the League of American Wheelmen Michigan Division, was a Wayne County road commissioner (along with Cass Benton and Henry Ford). He helped oversee this project. Back in 1893, he helped create legislation that enabled county road commissions.

Earle followed Hines as Chief Consul of the Wheelmen before becoming a state senator and our first state highway commissioner. He founded both MDOT and the American Road Builders Association. The National Cement Association called Earle the “Father of the Concrete Roads of the World.”

It’s highly ironic that some motorists question cyclists rights to the roads when we were there first and literally paving the way for improved motoring.

Unfortunately, that kind of history lesson is likely lost on the kind of drivers who see cyclists as "guests" on the road -- guests who should ride on the shoulder regardless of how much debris they encounter there (h/t to @cyclelicious for that link).

But let's not end the week on a down note. Instead, here are a few tidbits for your viewing pleasure:

Via EcoVelo, what may be the most amazing bike metamorphosis ever encountered. Click and believe.

Via Tempe Bicycle Action Group, the story of a bike that was ticketed for "excessive awesomeness." It belongs, by the way, to the woman who created these beautiful miniature bicycle dioramas.

And finally, a short film created for the NYC Bicycle Film Festival in 2009, Andrea Dorfman's "Thoughts on My Bike." It makes me a little bit happier every time I watch it (thanks to @leejb for that one).

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Friday’s Headlines: The Polk’s on Us Edition

This afternoon, our reporter Jesse Coburn will journey to Midtown to accept Streetsblog's first George Polk Award, one of journalism's highest honors. But before that, here's the news.

April 12, 2024

Op-Ed: Police Placard Corruption Report Was Weak, Disappointing … and Completely Expected

The Department of Investigations clearly had ample evidence of crimes and serious violations, yet its report lets everyone off the hook.

April 12, 2024

City Unveils Design for Long-Decrepit East Harlem Greenway

Nearly two dozen blocks of crumbling greenway along the Harlem River are slated for a revamp in 2025.

April 12, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines: Bike Lanes are Good for Business Edition

A business owner testifies from the heart (and wallet). Plus other news.

April 11, 2024

Environmental Groups Join to Fight Adams’s BQE Reconstruction

Rebuilding the Moses-era highway for another century is not environmental justice.

April 11, 2024
See all posts