Edmund King, AA President and former hitchhiker, said: “Sadly we appear to have reached the end of the road for hitchhiking. With only 1% of drivers saying that they would definitely stop to give someone a lift, and only 1% of respondents having hitchhiked in the last year, drivers have given a thumbs down to hitchhiking.
“The older generation are more likely to have thumbed a lift and hence are more likely to pick up hitchhikers. Perhaps cheaper coach travel, growth in car ownership, online lift sharing sites and personal safety fears have all contributed to the decline in hitchhiking”
A few weeks ago I picked up a hitchhiker. I didn’t tell anyone I’d done it until about a week later when I mentioned it in passing to a friend.
The reaction was one of shock and concern. Wasn’t I afraid? What if he’d been a murderer or rapist? Do I often pick up hikers?!?
When I was in Israel ( nearly 30 years ago) where they have conscription, young solders got around either by bus or hiking. They’d be ‘casual’ whilst in their uniform… shirt hanging out, several top buttons undone, sleeves rolled up, gun slung over their shoulder. They would hitch from bus stops and drivers were obliged to pick up hitching soldiers. As a back packer, I knew that if I wanted a lift all I had to do was hike from a bus stop and I’d get a lift with a soldier. I never thought twice about accepting a lift.
When I got back to the UK I was about 24 and I’d regularly offer hitchhikers lifts. Then a few years on I got caught up in the fear culture and stopped. I felt sad and embarrassed passing someone in the rain but was too nervous to stop.
Since moving to Wales, I’ve regained my perspective on life! I’ve remembered the majority of people are good. I’ve remembered the joy of helping out a stranger.
It felt great last week picking up the lad I did. Turns out his car was written off and so he’d been leaving early and hiking to work.
I can understand why people these days are both less likely to hitch and less likely to pick up hitchhikers, but I do think it’s a bit sad that it’s disappearing in the UK. I’ll continue to be one of the 12% of people in Wales prepared to pick up a hiker . What are your thoughts on the subject?