The Youth Hostels Association (YHA) was founded to provide cheap accommodation for rural holidays. It catered to both walkers and cyclists. However, many perceived the organization as one that favored walkers and considered walking to be a superior form of travel. This perception is examined through the study of four areas; the dispositions and statements of leading figures, the literature of the YHA, the press response to its formation, and the policy interventions of the YHA. Despite this, the YHA had close institutional links with cycling organizations and many cyclists among its members. This article traces the YHA’s relationship with walkers and cyclists and, despite occasional tensions, shows that the two groups could be accommodated within the organization.
Michael Cunningham is Senior Lecturer in politics at the University of Wolverhampton, UK. He has published widely in the areas of Northern Ireland politics and the politics of apology, and his current research interests include the youth hostel movement and the politics of walking. Recent publications in this area include “Ethos and Politics in the Youth Hostels Association in the 1930s,” Contemporary British History 30, no. 2 (2016). E-mail: email@example.com