“From time immemorial the wheel has been a symbol of power and the man in the street has cringed before its awful implications. The ‘man on horseback’ occasionally dismounted, but it was only to enter a wheeled vehicle whose distinction or magnificence or actual power of destruction set him apart from the common herd of men.
“The modern scene has worked certain changes in the average man’s attitude toward the wheel. Its functions have become enlarged and more democratic. It is now a symbol of individual achievement as well as of inherited power. The automobile-owner lords it over the pedestrian and the latter, by the mechanical exigencies of a machine society, is made to feel his inferiority at every step. In certain precariously balanced minds it is a short flight from this point to actual dromophobia, in which the victim sees the locomotive, the motor-car, the surface-car, any wheeled vehicle, in fact, as an animated killer, a modern demon of destruction resurrected out of the twilight of the ancient world to accomplish his destruction. To the ineffectual, the attribute of movement becomes a symbol of the achievement; to the impotent, a manifesto of power; and to the sexually impotent, the motor-car may be a phallic symbol – the personification of the quality he lacks and which he hates and fears in others. (Conversely, we find cases of the small, sexually weak man who bravely struts in the face of the traffic maze, thus finding the compensation he needs for his own inadequacy.) The dromophobic dreads the moment when he must emerge into the street. He postpones it, second by second, inventing reason after plausible reason to reassure himself, to rationalize his own panic. And when at last he nerves himself for the necessary plunge, he goes in the absolute conviction that he will never live to see the other side of the street.”
New York City
May 25th, 1931