By Peter D. Norton
Prior to the appearance of the car, clients of urban streets have been diversified and incorporated little ones at play and pedestrians at huge. by means of 1930, so much streets have been basically a motor thoroughfares the place little ones didn't belong and the place pedestrians have been condemned as "jaywalkers." In battling Traffic, Peter Norton argues that to house autos, the yankee urban required not just a actual swap but additionally a social one: sooner than the town will be reconstructed for the sake of motorists, its streets needed to be socially reconstructed as locations the place motorists belonged. It used to be now not an evolution, he writes, yet a bloody and infrequently violent revolution.
Norton describes how highway clients struggled to outline and redefine what streets have been for. He examines advancements within the the most important transitional years from the 1910s to the Nineteen Thirties, uncovering a vast anti-automobile crusade that reviled motorists as "road hogs" or "speed demons" and vehicles as "juggernauts" or "death cars." He considers the views of all users--pedestrians, police (who needed to turn into "traffic cops"), highway railways, downtown companies, site visitors engineers (who frequently observed autos because the challenge, now not the solution), and motor vehicle promoters. He reveals that pedestrians and oldsters campaigned in ethical phrases, battling for "justice." towns and downtown companies attempted to manage site visitors within the identify of "efficiency."
Automotive curiosity teams, in the meantime, legitimized their declare to the streets via invoking "freedom"--a rhetorical stance of specific strength within the usa. struggling with site visitors bargains a brand new examine either the origins of the automobile urban in the United States and the way social teams form technological change.
Peter D. Norton is Assistant Professor within the division of technological know-how, expertise, and Society on the collage of Virginia.
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Additional info for Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City (Inside Technology)
89 The public safety movement transformed local safety councils in many other cities too, especially those north and east of St. Louis. 90 Unlike the business-minded promoters of industrial safety, however, rank-and-ﬁle members of public safety campaigns drew their inspiration from human suffering. As members of local safety councils, they strengthened the councils’ tendency to portray frankly the grim consequences of Blood, Grief, and Anger 37 accidents, both as a practical warning to others and as public, emotional expressions of the toll of human suffering in accidents.
The more intellectual critics often called the automobile a pagan idol demanding sacriﬁce. The car was, for example, a juggernaut: a wheeled object of idolatry which crushed lives out under its wheels. The metaphor reﬂected the perception that the car’s threat was to those afoot, not those in vehicles. The comparison also showed the car not as a useful instrument subject to abuse by the irresponsible but as a needless and inherently dangerous machine. Driver and vehicle were not clearly distinguished; neither were responsible and irresponsible drivers.
Blood, Grief, and Anger 33 But trafﬁc and other public safety problems were different. Workmen’s compensation laws did not apply to public accidents. 64 Thus there was at ﬁrst no well-organized public safety movement of the scale of the NSC’s industrial safety work. Yet institutions and methods devised for industrial safety were easily adapted to public safety campaigns, and in the late 1910s the transition began. Safety First spread beyond plant walls, becoming an admonition not only to industrial workers but also to motorists, streetcar patrons, and pedestrians.
Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City (Inside Technology) by Peter D. Norton