Reading journal: The car in British society (28/03/2017)

2017-03-20 15.02.50

Alas, I find myself at the short end of a literary disappointment. Though I started this book with a considerable amount of skepticism, I was at first pleasantly surprised by the insight it provided. Though perhaps not immediate to the local context, The car in British society is but also another literary example of the academics behind the formulaic usage of the car. I am starting to realize that I need to rethink my reading list.

The chapters, formulated like the essays that they were no doubt taken from, do not result in an engagement not strong enough for myself. As a student, academic essays present themselves as a perpetual pile of papers on my desk. As such, it takes a lot in that format to keep me in tune.

It is possible that I am being too harsh, for there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the book. It is informative and it is coherent. But for me, it didn’t amount to very much.

With the exception of one subsection.

When discussing the leisure aspect of car ownership, insight was given to the Automobile Association (AA), founded in Britain at the time of major change in automotive legislation during the 1900s. Today, few people know of the AA as membership numbers have slipped. But back then, they were seen as defenders of the common motorist.

A prime example. With the boom in car ownership, steps were taken to increase the number of speed traps along rural roads in response to fears that cars would destroy the countryside. What the AA then beggars belief. Using their membership revenue to avoid prosecution and to implement their plan, they hired cyclists to act as scouts that would warn motorists of upcoming traps.

Same as the number of cyclists that the AA hired, that is 32,000 shades of brilliance. And of grey, as there were technically no laws being broken.

And in a time when our government is thinking of knocking 20 km/h off our speed limits, this level of initiative speaks a relevant volume.


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