Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Some 1913 Bicycle Accidents in DC

October 1913 had two bicycle accidents that received newspaper coverage, one that involved President Wilson and "the White House car" (as it was referred to) and another involving the then-highest ranking bicycle commuter in the U.S. federal government.

The Washington Herald of October 06, 1913 had this story about the follow-up after President Wilson's car (driven by a chauffeur) had an accident with a bicycle messenger.
WILSON VISITS BOY AUTO HURT - Calls at Hospital and Feels Robert Crawford's Pulse and Head.

LAD SHOWS PLEASURE - Particularly Happy Over President's Promise to Give Him Bicycle to Replace Broken One

"Laying on of hands" may fail to cure nine times out of ten in these days, but in the opinion of Robert Crawford, the messenger boy run down and injured by President Wilson's automobile Saturday, the soothing touch of the chief Executive's hands and his cheering talk worked miraculously yesterday when the President visited the little patient at Providence Hospital.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Young Crawford was assured that the President would see that he had another bicycle in place of the one that was demolished by the White House car. After giving the patient this assurance and telling him that he hoped he would be completely well soon, President Wilson left the sickroom and returned to the White House in his automobile.

A typical messenger boy with bicycle in Washington DC, 1912

This incident was of sufficient notoriety that it is mentioned in the Wikipedia article about "telegraph boys" - "The President sent his personal physician to attend Crawford. Later, he visited the boy in the hospital and presented him with a new bicycle. "I did not know it was the President's car that I ran into," the boy said. Wilson replied, "I rather thought it was the President's car that ran into you.""

Not long after that, the second highest official at the Department of State had a bicycle accident that was reported on in the newspaper by The Washington Times on October 14, 1913.

Secretary's Machine Wrecked and He Narrowly Escapes Receiving Serious Injury.

Assistant Secretary of State A. A. Adee had a narrow escape from serious injury this morning, when he rode his world-famous bicycle, which was carrying him to his office in the State Department, into the automobile being driven by J. E. Baines. of Browning Baines, coffee manufacturers, as Pennsylvania avenue northwest. Mr. Adee'a bicycle was damaged to such an extent that he was unable to ride it. He escaped serious Injury, however, although miraculously. Following the collision, Mr. Baines jumped from the car, assisted Mr. Adee to his feet, brushed the dust from his clothes, and after making an inventory, found that the aged cyclist was practically uninjured. The accident happened at Sixteenth and Corcoran streets. Secretary Adee was going west on Corcoran, and was turning into Sixteenth when he came immediately in front of Mr. Baine's automobile, which was going south. Mr. Baines turned his machine about, but not in time to keep Mr. Adee, who had not till that time seen it, from colliding.

Alvey Adee in 1914, riding his bike to work, some time after the above-described crash

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