Indiana Public Roads - 1909

The article in attachment Roads121209 originally appeared in the December 12, 1909 Indianapolis Star. This is an interesting insight into the state of public roads which was a major issue of the day and a cause championed by Indianapolis Motor Speedway Founder and President Carl Fisher.
There is a main article in this attachment that is supplemented by a sidebar. The primary article focuses on the state of Indianapolis-area roads extending out into the countryside. It also discusses driving etiquette with respect to sharing roads with horse-drawn vehicles - another serious issue of the day but somehow amusingly quaint by today's standards.
The article reports that central Indiana had enjoyed mild weather up to the publication date and that local roads were in relatively good shape. Ruts, however, were also a challenge as the highways of the day were at best crushed stone. The ruts, the article posits, are largely the result of thoughtless driving by car owners. The article challenges car owners to drive their cars over a variety of spots across the width of the road as opposed to everyone using the same pattern. The pattern invevitably carved troublesome ruts into the road especially when the soil was moist from rainfall.
As for sharing passage with horse-drawn buggies and wagons the point was made that the drivers of these vehicles typically steered down the middle of the road and rarely yeilded the right-of-way quickly. This is just a guess on my part but it may well have been that they had a completely different concept of closing rate and believed it was not necessary to respond quickly to an approaching automobile. There is no doubt, too, that they simply resented the machines of wealthy people or being honked at in what they saw as a disrespectful manner.
The response of the motorist, the article points out, was too frequently aggressive. Many times the auto driver slowed in front of the wagon or buggy once he passed it which not only blocked them but pumped exhaust into both animal and driver's nostrils as well as kicking up a lot of dust. The article submits that such behavior by the motorists hardened the position of the horse driver who saw them as rude.
The sidebar reports of a growing recognition for the need to improve public roads. It notes the first national good roads convention the previous year in Buffalo, New York and the needs it highlighted. The inadequacy of the crushed stone or Macadam paving of roads is condemned. This technique, developed by John Macadam in the early 1800's and latter improved by Thomas Telford, was seen as poorly suited to the 20th Century advent of the automobile. The first Macadam roads in the Unites States were introduced in the 1820's, so the technology was nearly 100 years old.
The trade jounal Automobile Topics is quoted in this article:
"There is only one thing that is quite beyond dispute. The system of road building invented by Macadam and added to by Telford is not adapted to automobile traffic..."

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