Lawless Cyclists, circa 1908

It’s always amazing what you find when researching. Stumbled across the following Letter to the Editor which appeared in The (Adelaide) Advertiser newspaper back on Saturday 6 June 1908.

107 years ago but the debate still sounds pretty familiar.

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To the Editor.

Sir -“Wm. H. Allen’s” attack on “lawless cyclists” is enough to disgust even his clerical friend who declined his tea. Cyclists as I said in a previous letter, are the more fragile and easily injured of all wayfarer. Pedestrians have wide, well-drained paths everywhere for their use. Traps, carts, wagons, and the like have roads adequate to their requirements, barring the dust. But where does the cyclist come in? He contributes to the cost of the footpath, which he may not use, and to the cost of the roads, which are in general utterly unfit for his use, and which would have to be maintained in any case. He is forced to use these roads, at terrible and constant risk, especially in winter, and also great inconvenience. Mr Allen would know something about bumps if he had to bike it over the roads in and around Adelaide. As the cyclist pays a full share of the cost and upkeep of roads and footpaths which are of no use to him, whv do not the users of the roads and footpaths contribute towards the cost of tracks for cyclists? If the revenue of the various municipalities is at present inadequate to provide the necessary tracks, then cyclists should bring every possible pressure to bear in securing the trifling increase in rates necessary to provide them with thoroughfares, to which they are just as much entitled as are pedestrians to footpaths, and more so. Meanwhile, instead of treating them with the rigor and bad taste at present displayed, it would better become the authorities to evidence their recognition of the disabilities under which lie fragile wheelman labors by exhibiting a compromising and helpful spirit, by allowing cyclists the use of the lest-frequented paths, and by all other reasonable means in their power.



The original letter.


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