After reading the recent crop of letters to the editor, decrying the poor roadway (and sidewalk) manners of cyclists in Waterloo Region, it was especially amusing to read the following news article, plucked from the pages of the Berlin Daily Telegraph, May 7, 1903. Many thanks to local historian rych mills for passing this along:
Enforcing Bicycle By-Laws. (main headline)
Steps Will Be Taken to Force the Bicyclist in Berlin to Obey Certain Regulations. (sub-headline)
"During the last few weeks there have been numerous accidents cause by careless bicyclists who have run down pedestrians and collided with other bicyclists. One of these unfortunate victims was Ald. J.F. Honsberger, who was knocked down a few days ago and had his head injured. Since then he has observed bicyclists riding on the sidewalks and has heard of one or two of them going so far as to order the ladies to step off the sidewalk until they pass by.
"Ald. Honsberger proposes to bring the matter before the Council next Monday evening and it may possibly be decided to appoint one or two day constables who ride bicycles for a few weeks to run down the law-breaking bicycle-rider.
"The regulations governing any person riding or driving a bicycle or bicycle tandem or other vehicle of a similar character up or along any public street, park, lane, square, or other public place are as follows:
"No person shall ride or drive any such vehicle at a rate of speed faster than 8 miles an hour nor when turning corners at a rate of speed faster than 4 miles an hour.
"No person shall ride or drive any such vehicle without having at all times one or both hands on the handle bar and both feet on the pedals, nor in any position or manner in which such person loses control of such vehicle.
"Any person riding or driving such vehicle shall give audible warning with a bicycle bell when approaching street crossings or intersections and when approaching pedestrians who may be on or passing over any street or any public place.
"No person shall carry any child or children on such bicycle or other vehicle of a similar character which is being ridden by such person.
"Any person riding or driving any such vehicle shall carry after dark upon such bicycle a lighted lamp visible at a distance in front thereof of at least 200 feet.
"Section 92 of by-law 737 of the Consolidated by-laws of 1902 reads as follows: -- No person shall draw, push or propel any hand-cart, waggon, carriage, bicycle, tricycle, or other vehicle on or over or along any sidewalk, in any public street or other public place within the town of Berlin, provided always this Section shall not apply to the propelling of baby carriages (but in all cases it shall be the duty of every person propelling a baby carriage to give way to foot passengers and if necessary to prevent interference with them to turn off the sidewalk or to the lawful crossing of a sidewalk, to go into any house, yard or lot adjoining the same.)"
What an amazing mish-mash of regulations. If this is the foundation for roadway cycling laws, no wonder today's regulations are such a mess. Road warriors will no doubt scoff at Berlin's mandatory top speed for bicycles: eight miles being about 12 kilometres an hour. The reference to both hands and feet on the bar and pedals is presumably to discourage the emerging stunt bike movement (see the Edwardian riders, here). And the reference to having an audible bell to ring to warn pedestrians seems to presume that, once warned, walkers are then supposed to leap out of the way.
rych mills wonders if these bylaws have been overtaken by events of the past 110 years, but suspects that it is still unwise for sidewalk cyclists to knock over council members.