While hitchhiking was hardly a new concept during the travelling heyday of the 1970’s, it was during this time when it most fashionable, achieving a degree of cultural significance. The prevalence of hitchhiking during the Western world’s counter-cultural zenith demonstrates the sense of openness and freedom the youth exuded at the time.
Since its peak in the 1970’s and the decline of the counter-cultural movement, the practice of hitchhiking has declined considerably, and for a number of reasons. The freewheeling travelling lifestyle has declined considerably, and the prevalence of car owners has increased. Infrastructure has also improved around the world, negating much of the need for hitchhiking. There is also much of a cultural stigma surrounding hitchhiking, the practice being publicly demonised by governments who often insist at it being unsafe. A number of pieces of popular culture also stirred fears surrounding hitchhiking such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, along with a number of troubling real life events. In addition to a lack of need for hitchhiking, the attitude towards it has also shifted from an embrace to a rejection.
main image: courtesy of Mark Goble, Flickr creative commons