Railways and Cyclists (2nd comment made in 1897)

Here follows a number of public correspondences concerning the way cyclists were treated by the railway companies – and various other members of the Victorian public – where they showed their dislike and disregard for a cycling fraternity which was growing in numbers considerably. It must be said, that if it wasn’t for the doggedness and determination of our cycling forebears we may not have our fantastic and healthy hobby that we enjoy today. After reading this post and a selection of others, you will come to understand the fight and injustices meted out by our fellow countrymen at the time – we owe it all to the Victorian cyclist – especially to the determination of the women and the part they played for recognition as an equal.

                                                                                    Stephen Channing

Railways and cyclists

To The Editor of The Times Sir,

Your correspondent “L. H. H.” seems to assume that a railway company is not liable for damage caused to a bicycle if carried at what is known as “owners risk” but I am not at all so sure as to this. The Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1854, provides that every railway company shall be liable for the loss of or injure to goods (under which category a bicycle undoubtedly falls) in the receiving, forwarding or delivery thereof occasioned by the neglect or default of such company or its servants, notwithstanding any notice, condition, or declaration limiting such liability; and any every such notice, condition, or declaration in anywise limiting such liability shall be void. But nothing in such Act is to prevent a company from making such conditions in respect to the receiving, forwarding, or delivery of goods as shall be adjudged by the Court or Judge before whom any question relating thereto shall be tried to be just and reasonable, provided such condition is embodied in a special contract made and signed by the sender or person delivering the goods to the company.

A condition providing for a reduced rate for goods carried at “owner’s risk” is doubtless just and reasonable, but even then it seems to me that such condition does not relieve the company unless it is contained in a special contract signed by the deliverer. So far as I have been able to ascertain, no railway company requires such a contract, but relies upon a conditiopn endorsed its bicycle tickets varying in terms, but to the effect that the acceptance of such ticket relieves them from. Liability.

It is true that neglect or default on the part of the company or its servants must be proved, but in “L. H. H.’s” case there certainly appears to have been neglect.

            I am, yours, &c.,

September 13                                                                                       L.




It is quite time some of the powers that be came to the rescue of the ill-used cyclist and brought about a reduction in the carriage of a bicycle by railway. Having met with a bad puncture on Saturday last I had occasion to take train from Walton to Chertsey and found the cost of my bicycle exceeded my own fare.

When are we to see the introduction of, at least, a rack in the ordinary luggage vans which could be of a temporary sort and thus diminish the rough usage of which your correspondent “L. H. H.” so justly complains          I remain yours faithfully,

            September 13,                                      “A CAREFUL CYCLIST.”

 The Times, Tuesday, Sep 14, 1897; pg. 8

Leave a Reply