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why did hitchhiking fizzle out? (Read 22347 times)

duncan

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#75 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
February 28, 2024, 01:17:29 pm
Hitchhiking was my standard mode of transport most of the time in the late 70s to late 80s. Everyone in my social circle did it and, as I view it as a measure of social trust, Iím a bit sad to see it dying out. Ask women or non-white people and you would hear a different tale of course.

Like others I have war-stories. I met a girlfriend of a number of years hitching to Arapiles when we agreed to join forces for mutual benefit. I spent a couple of days travelling around Sufi sites in central Turkey with a minibus of middle-aged women on their way to Konya. This was a religious pilgrimage but, like the Canterbury Tales, there was a strong social element: in part it was a holiday from their domestic duties. We cooked and slept on pavements and obviously I received several invitations to marry their daughters. It made me rethink my attitude to religion in general and Islam in particular.

I canít think of a single encounter when I felt personally threatened. The scariest was probably with an ageing Spanish couple in a lovely vintage open-top Mercedes. They had seemed like the ideal lift when they stopped. Unfortunately seŮor saw himself as the Ayrton Senna of Zaragoza, there were few dual carriageways in 1980s Spain, and overtaking relied on a strong sense of your immortality.

Unless the driver is very trusting and extremely altruistic, hitchhiking depends on the implicit recognition that the hitchhiker canít easily access other transport at that point through no major fault of their own. This is still somewhat plausible if you are looking for a lift up the Llanberis pass but much less so at the start of the M1. If youíre a walker or climber youíve got a good reason to stick your thumb out - itís often difficult to arrange transport to the hills and crags even if you have the money. At Brent Cross? Itís easy and cheap to get a coach, why are you not doing that? Probably a bit weird... 

Iíd be interested if other measures of social trust have changed over this time (the data I can find is cross-sectional, if there is a relationship it should be relatively easy to hitch in Scandinavia). My sense is trust decayed somewhat in the 1980s but there was a behavioural lag. Some other behaviours which somewhat rely on social trust also seemed to die out: staying in youth hostels for example. A lag in behaviour would explain the timing of the decline in relation to access to transport: It was still OK to hitchhike in the late 80s even though car ownership had become much more widespread.

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#76 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
February 28, 2024, 01:33:59 pm
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I've noticed some of your positions boil down to living in a world that doesn't exist.

No, what's interesting to me is understanding what parts of human nature are 'hard-wired' and which are more amenable to change. Having the respect of your peers likely is hard-wired, but what we respect and how respect is earned is very flexible and constantly changing.

There will be an inflection point pretty soon where the scramble not to be associated with internal combustion engines becomes enormous -  and you're already betting on it. On paper it is driven by understanding the science but on the ground the change will be driven by peer respect. But there's also increasingly a move away from personal car ownership - just because it isn't the majority in North Wales doesn't mean it isn't significant.

Quote
hitchhiking depends on the implicit recognition that the hitchhiker canít easily access other transport at that point through no major fault of their own...  This is still somewhat plausible if you are looking for a lift up the Llanberis pass but much less so at the start of the M1.

Most of the hitching I did was between because public transport would have been massively indirect and inconvenient, not because it was unaffordable. Even when it was mostly up and down the M6. Same when I pick people up, I don't assume they are penniless and they rarely are, it's just the simplest way to get from A to B. I agree the hardest place to get a lift is leaving a major town or city but I'm not at all convinced it's because coach travel is available. Sheffield to Burbage is a perfect example - very easy to get a lift back, near impossible to get out. There's an element of trusting someone who's just been climbing or walking, but showing a rope doesn't make it much easier getting out. I think there's a genuine shift in attitude engendered by shifting from a 'city' mindstate to a 'country' one.

SamT

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#77 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
February 28, 2024, 01:37:22 pm
However, hitching with my wife [to be] was entirely different, and we were almost always given a lift within a few cars.

Totally.  We did the Man Uni hitch and chose Dublin as our destination.  Registered our start time at union, caught a bus/walked out towards the Princess Road and a petrol station.  Was busy penning a sign on cardboard when we were approached by a business man type, asked where we were off.. hadn't even stuck our thumb out.

He took us out to chester bypass way, then from there we got a lift out to LLandulas almost immeadiatly, and again from there to Bangor, hadn't waited more than 2 mins.  From bangor we got someone who was only going half way across Anglesey, but went out of his way to get us to Holyhead in the hope we'd just manage to catch the 6pm ferry.  Just missed it!! - it was still docked but they'd stopped letting people on.  I reckon if we'd just hit that, we'd have been in dublin almost as fast as it was possible, without flying.  Hung out in Holyhead waiting for the next ferry and landed at 6am the next morning.   
She was blonde and pretty.  :-[

Better still, on the return journey, at Bangor, sunday evening, going dark, we got to the slip road onto the A55 and had to do a long walk past 8 or 10 hitching pairs and join the queue at the end of the slip road.   Obviously everyone stuck their thumbs out.  A car drove past everyone and stopped right infront of us -.. I glanced up the road, at the 20 or so pairs of eyes glaring at us,  "you getting in or what came a voice from within.. ?" we bundled in.   

It gets better.  Boom! he was heading to Leeds, pre sat nav/phones, so I persuaded him it was 6 and two threes to head east round the M60 to get to the M62, as it would drop us somewhere the right side of town for us.  By somesort of divine intervention and some bad roadworks signage, he got caught on the wrong side of some cones which slipped him off the M60 on to the A34 kingsway, where hazel lived.   I just had to persuade him that now, it was just as easy to carry on straight through town, rather than getting back on the motorway "what with all the roadworks and that"  so we got dropped off 100 yards from hazels front door.   BEST LIFT EVER.


 


SamT

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#78 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
February 28, 2024, 01:43:27 pm
Social norms changed - it isn't cool to hitch. If the youth were putting up hitchhiking adventures on social media showing hitching to be a normal part of their life then it could be different.

Hence my orignal comment about my fantasy about doing just this..  peeps are well into 'following' travel vloggers on social media.

Who remembers signing their names on the back of road signs next to all the other names of those who'd also stood there.  Amazing.

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#79 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
February 28, 2024, 01:50:28 pm
Fastest I have done is from Potchefstroom to Cape Town (1,300km) the day I finished National Service. Left camp at 10 am, mate took me the first 2 hours to where he lived on the way, then got 3 lifts, one of whom had been to collect a new puppy which threw up on my boots. One even bought me lunch at a service station, he was so happy for me that I was done with army life. Was looking dubious near Paarl and getting dark, but got a ride in an empty luxury coach, who took me right into CT city centre, 15 mins walk from mate's house at 11pm, got changed and went out clubbing until 3 am. Being in uniform definitely helps!

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#80 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
February 28, 2024, 01:58:14 pm

No, what's interesting to me is understanding what parts of human nature are 'hard-wired' and which are more amenable to change. Having the respect of your peers likely is hard-wired, but what we respect and how respect is earned is very flexible and constantly changing.

There will be an inflection point pretty soon where the scramble not to be associated with internal combustion engines becomes enormous -  and you're already betting on it. On paper it is driven by understanding the science but on the ground the change will be driven by peer respect. But there's also increasingly a move away from personal car ownership - just because it isn't the majority in North Wales doesn't mean it isn't significant.

Yes I'm very aware of these things - as an avid investor of over 25 years I'm extremely familiar with observing and trying to predict the behavioural factors that drive momentum in the uptake of new trends, fashions, stupid greed and fear behaviours, the life cycle of new technologies etc. 

Me saying 'comparison' is just my shorthand. You can use respect by peers, competition, ego, loads of other loosely related words and terms. My point is that we're tribal animals and it's extremely difficult if not impossible to act for long in isolation of what other people are doing/thinking. The people who aren't following the mainstream of consumer culture are still acting partly as a result of seeing themselves in relation to some other person or group. They 'know' they're acting as they are, in part because they can see they aren't acting the same as somebody else.

To what extent social behaviour is 'hard-wired', for want of a better term - good luck unearthing the truth behind that. I'm a boring realist who uses shortcuts, assumptions, heuristics an any number of other less than ideal ways to navigate the world as best I can.


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#81 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
February 28, 2024, 02:43:50 pm
Secondly, the people you're talking about who eschew playing the consumption game are absolutely comparing themselves with others, just not the majority  :lol:
My impression was that hitching was always a minority activity in the UK (both hitching and giving lifts to hitchers). The phenomenon I was remarking on was it changing from being a 1% minority (aka loads of people hitching everywhere) to being whatever it is now (0.0001% or whatever, such that it has been several years between me seeing someone hitching).

The only place I can recall, where hitching seemed ubiquitous (for men anyway) was Northern Pakistan (in early 1990s). People there dangerously overloaded their vehicles with hitchers (standing on the front bumper etc). I saw someone there given a lift who was carrying an AK47 (not a soldier either).

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#82 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
February 28, 2024, 07:17:30 pm
personal anecdote, growing up with seeing some docuseries / films such as wolfs creek, the hitchhiker about hitchhiking, I definitely am very cautious about picking up anyone  :sorry:

Hmm, how many assaults by car drivers on hitching passengers have been reliably reported in the UK in recent decades? 0, afaik.

Iíd suggest the real danger is the hitcher gets on board with a bad driver. Thereís a lot of RTAs every year. Wouldnít want to be in one.

PS Obviously, if Rutger Hauer pulls over to offer you a lift, politely decline.

SA Chris

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#83 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
February 28, 2024, 09:17:36 pm
Or revel in your time.

Duma

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#84 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
February 29, 2024, 07:32:31 am
Very good Chris

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#85 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
February 29, 2024, 08:48:05 am
personal anecdote, growing up with seeing some docuseries / films such as wolfs creek, the hitchhiker about hitchhiking, I definitely am very cautious about picking up anyone  :sorry:

But you watched the dozen's of documentries about plane disasters but still fly right??  :-\

(and if you don't I'd hazard is on an environmental stand point, rather than one of the risks involved.)


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#86 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
February 29, 2024, 01:30:35 pm
North Scandinavia is still good for hitching but I think that's because there's only one lane/road going form south to north, the speed limit is 80 kmh, there's a lot of big parking pockets and traffic often has to go a long way. But still besides Lofoten it's unusual to see so many around.

A few years ago I wanted to hitch Yosemite to Squamish, but gave up in Oregon Eugene. Highways are just horrible to hitch on. Traffic is too fast and there's no place to pull over. Once I wanted to hitch south from Inverness and went all the way to the highway with my 30kg of haul bags figured there wasn't any sensible way to pull over a car and went back to the bus stop in the middle of town.
I would almost blame the speed of traffic and amount of vehicles why hitching has gotten more tricky, if you know no one else will pass by in the next hour people feel more responsible.

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#87 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
March 06, 2024, 12:01:31 pm
Met three student lads at Remergence yesterday afternoon. They were in a flap about catching the bus back from the Fox House. I suggested hitching - it was clearly not something they'd considered. One of them looked keen but they traipsed off for the bus, 'I think things are a bit different since your day' was the response. Not sure what - I'd be just as likely to pick them up as twenty years ago, and I think plenty of others would. Suspect what has changed is the expectation of charity being given rather than any shame in accepting it.

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#88 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
March 06, 2024, 12:32:05 pm
Enjoying this thread.

Truth is having had a car since the day I turned 17 I've very rarely hitched. I always felt then, mid 90s, that i'd missed the halcyon days of hitching, similar to other scenes like living at stoney or attending a stag do that was featured in OTE.

I do pick people up though - this last boxing day driving from norwich to wickersley around dusk I picked up a girl outside kings lynn with a 'Newark' sign. As i hit the brakes and pulled in my teenager literally shouted 'YOU ARE FUCKING JOKING!', then sighed and rolled his eyes so hard one of his pimples popped.

Tiny single white female with a massive rucksack at dusk on boxing day; it could only be a euro crusty who smelled of rollies and cabbage. Turned out she was Lithuanian and actually going to Glasgow. Garrulous type, perhaps obviously, certainly wouldn't have occurred to her that hitching is hard/ out of fashion in any way. She'd been all over europe and the uk. I took her to Nottingham where she was getting a night coach or something.

I think Arthur is still annoyed about it but like a lot of things in his life; I was right.

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#89 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
March 06, 2024, 01:05:29 pm
Enjoying this thread.

Truth is having had a car since the day I turned 17 I've very rarely hitched. I always felt then, mid 90s, that i'd missed the halcyon days of hitching, similar to other scenes like living at stoney or attending a stag do that was featured in OTE.

I do pick people up though - this last boxing day driving from norwich to wickersley around dusk I picked up a girl outside kings lynn with a 'Newark' sign. As i hit the brakes and pulled in my teenager literally shouted 'YOU ARE FUCKING JOKING!', then sighed and rolled his eyes so hard one of his pimples popped.

Tiny single white female with a massive rucksack at dusk on boxing day; it could only be a euro crusty who smelled of rollies and cabbage. Turned out she was Lithuanian and actually going to Glasgow. Garrulous type, perhaps obviously, certainly wouldn't have occurred to her that hitching is hard/ out of fashion in any way. She'd been all over europe and the uk. I took her to Nottingham where she was getting a night coach or something.

I think Arthur is still annoyed about it but like a lot of things in his life; I was right.


Hitching still very much a thing in much of Eastern Europe. Still relatively low levels of car ownership there, of course.

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#90 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
March 06, 2024, 04:54:59 pm
I used to hitch quite a bit when I was younger. I spent 3 months in New Zealand in 2004 and with so many backpackers getting a ride was easy. In fact, people went out of their way to help, and I've met some interesting people on the way.

One elderly couple I met in a bar offered me and my mate a ride to Auckland at the end of our trip, it was about a 3 hour drive. They showed up the next morning in a 3 door Nissan Micra and crammed us in (my mate is about 6' 4") with our huge rucksacks. They refused any petrol money, and took us right to the door of our accommodation. They were Irish, and on learning that we were Welsh the man started a long story about a running bet on the 6(5) Nations that he had with a Welsh friend, and produced a pound note signed by him and his friend. It turned out I actually knew him, my dad rented some land from him.

Another ride was from a British academic. He drove like a lunatic and made lots of dodgy overtakes. Eventually we got pulled over by the police, who'd had reports of a speeding driver, but hadn't got any direct evidence. They gave him a telling off and he was pretty anxious about it. He bought me lunch to say sorry for the inconvenience.

The best ride was from a young Maori guy. He took me to his mum's house, and we had a huge traditional meal with his family and some friends, then we went to a local river to collect jade that he used to make jewellery.

The only slightly scary experience I had was when I was about 10 and my dad picked up a hitcher on our way back from the Royal Welsh Show, which was our standard start of the summer holidays family jolly. There were already 5 of us (Mum, Dad and 3 kids, 3, 7 and 10) plus all the clutter of a family day out, in a Daihatsu Fourtrak. Mum was understandably angry that Dad was picking someone up with an already full car, but then seemed even more angry when it turned out to be someone Dad knew (no big surprise at a farming event). Dad looked a little awkward. I was stuck in the boot to make room. "Haven't seen you in a while," said Dad, looking guilty. There was a silence. Dad knew full well why he hadn't seen him, he'd just been released from prison for attempted murder!

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#91 Re: why did hitchhiking fizzle out?
March 06, 2024, 10:20:30 pm
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"Haven't seen you in a while," said Dad, looking guilty. There was a silence. Dad knew full well why he hadn't seen him, he'd just been released from prison for attempted murder!

Just brilliant.... so your dad met him in prison right?? :-\

 

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