Monday, January 10, 2011

Advice to the Cyclist - "How to Behave" (in 1896)

Given recent discussions of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and its resolution that cyclists should "do better" I was amused to see that such advice has now been with us for over 100 years.

A small article in the June 28, 1896 issue of The Morning Times (of Washington DC - the article is at the lower left of this full newspaper page) has the following ~
HOW TO BEHAVE - Some Rules Which Wheelers Can Follow Most Implicitly.

The following rules or suggestions for rules have been approved by a number of experienced wheelmen, and will be found to cover the more important questions of conduct on the road.

In the first place, remember that too much care cannot be exercised for the safety of pedestrians as well as wheel people. The carriages, with the assistance of the new lamp ordinance, will be able to lookout for themselves. If you have the misfortune to run down a pedestrian do not hasten away, but stop to give what help you can.
This seems to cover the essential advice, at least comparing our practices today with the advice that follows ~
Never pass by an accident without dismounting and inquiring what the trouble is and whether you can be of any assistance, but remember that any service you may render to a wheelwoman does not entitle you to her aquaintance without the usual formal introduction. It is always proper to speak to a wheelwoman who may be in need or assistance. Humanity requires this.
If you go to the page itself and read the item further, much of the advice relates to how wheelmen should interact with wheelwomen (if they want to do so correctly) rather than avoiding accidents, although there is some further guidance in that department, including the protocol for ringing a bell (and ringing your bell in response, naturally).

Still, there is some good practical advice that hasn't changed ~
Many of the accidents we read of every day could be avoided if the riders would regulate their pace according to their skill in managing the wheel under difficulties.
Do not ride in the middle of a path or driveway. You are liable to meet with an accident, and cannot recover for damages to your wheel unless you observe the rules or the rood.
As a bonus, this newspaper page, despite being an image produced from microfilm, has this lovely representation of cyclists traveling from Washington to Baltimore~

Bikes ("Wheels") in DC - 1896

And this ~

DC to Baltimore - Bikes, 1896

A final quote ~
Always preserve your dignity and pay no attention to small boys or dogs, both of which are perfectly harmless to the average wheelman.

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