The common rights of cyclists, 20th Aug 1900 (another comment)



Sir,—I entirely agree with your correspondent Mr. Shaxby that we have arrived at a period in cycling when familiarity has bred contempt, however, as I should say, on the part of cyclists for the safety of pedestrians, who, after all, have their rights one of which is to be permitted to use in peace the highways on which they take their walks.

It is all very well to speak of the “carelessness, which has grown into an utter disregard of the warning bell,” but, speaking with a large and daily experience of walking on the roads in this neighbourhood, I can truly say that in nine out of ten times I am passed by cyclists at full speed whose bell is never sounded and who glide or shoot by so silently and so closely as almost to touch my elbow, seeming indeed to enjoy the feat of startling the unwary or the deaf by the very whirl and rash of their passage. This too, where there is no footpath for walkers, but where the road is probably broad enough for two-or-three carriages to pass abreast. Nor is it of much use to keep well on one side, for the “scorcher” seems, for some mysterious reason, to soak one out there, leaving the rest of the road, vacant.

It is not always that one preserves a perfectly even course in walking, yet it is absolutely dangerous nowadays to diverge in the slightest from the straight line to avoid a puddle or cross the road; the cyclist acts as though its whole breadth were his, and practically says woo to those who do not make way for him. For myself, I am always ready to make way, and I would only beg of him, or of her, for even the  ladies, though less frequently, sometimes forgot to sound the bell so much spoken of by your correspondent and in addition to allow a good space in passing.

Liberty in the use of the highway is nothing more than I would ask, but to that, I think all will agree, we pedestrians, who used to enjoy our walks abroad long before cycling was thought of, are in common fairness entitled.

                        I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

                                                                        H M GREENHOW

The Times, Monday, Aug 20, 1900; pg. 8

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