“bicycle craze?” Edward Owen, Hyde Park, during twenty years’ Police Service in Hyde Park, 1906

 

Edward Owen, Hyde Park, Select Narratives, Annual Event, etc,
during twenty years’ Police Service in Hyde Park,
1906

 In writing my reminiscences of police duty in Hyde Park, I feel I should not perhaps be altogether completing my undertaking to omit-if only a few remarks on the subject of the bicycling season, or rather the bicycle craze, as it was more appropriately termed, and which undoubtedly it proved to be; for, like the proverbial donkey’s gallop, it was short and sweet. One brief season-and it vanished as quickly as it sprang up! As a matter of fact, I was somewhat undecided about referring to the event at all.
However, for the little while it did exist it certainly caused no small talk, and looked at one time to even vie with the Row in popularity.
The Ring Road, from the Achilles Statue, Hyde Park Corner, to the Magazine, was the selected track, – a nice level straight run of about a mile – and soon, after ten o’clock in the morning, cyclists – chiefly ladies – made their appearance from all directions and by eleven o’clock that portion of the roadway was simply thronged with them; for carriage traffic or equestrians it was almost impossible to get through, at all events dangerous to attempt, consequently they were advised to proceed by other routes. At every crossing counstables were posted to assist foot passengers over the roadway-no easy matter to accomplish, either for the policeman himself or for those he was escorting. To pass safely through those rapid, silent wheels-no putting one’s hand up and promptly stopping them like the ordinary carriage, traffic-it was a case of getting over the best way one possibly could.
I was fortunate enough to escape without getting knocked down myself but I believe it was more by luck than judgment – judgment was out of the question, for in getting out of the way of one you were in that of another – it was sheer dodging to and fro. My post was at the crossing directly opposite the Achilles Statue, the turning point of the track, and the cutting and twisting and incessant tinkling of bells around you kept one in a state of fever heat. I have done duty on every conceivable crossing on the Row and carriage-way in the Park, and positively assert I would a thousand times rather do four hours of that duty in the busiest of the season than the one hour and a half or two hours amid those enthusiastic cyclists; and when twelve o’clock came-the limit of the time extended to bicycles in the Park then-and they began to disperse, it was a great relief to be able to breathe freely once again, at least, that is expressing my feelings on the matter. It is needless for me to state that bicycles are now admitted to the Park at any time, like any other authorised vehicle. And why the display did not become one of the Park’s annual attractions is more than I can account for; it certainly justified the then general impression that it was “merely a craze.”

Edward Owen, Hyde Park, Select Narratives, Annual Event, etc,
during twenty years’ Police Service in Hyde Park,
1906

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