Cycling Sources #3- Looking Right Ahead

There may well be something universal in dreaming of sunshine, warmth and spring during these dark and dreary months at the beginning of the year. The article below appeared in Cycling in January 1893, and a hundred and twenty-two years later it has certainly struck a chord with me. With January on its very last legs it perhaps now is indeed the right time to, ‘look right ahead for the sunny months of the near future.’

‘It is indeed relieving to know we are on the high road to the next merry cycling season. The shortest day is behind us, Christmas ’92 has tumbled way back into the past, and has joined all those other Christmases that we can remember, from the days of childhood when they used to seem ages instead of months apart, upwards to the present time when they seem to come round all too quickly. True, the New Year is very young yet, but the whirling of time does spin us around so quickly nowadays, that one may be excused for glancing at the coming seasons prospects so early. I like looking ahead in these dark days of winter. The future may appear dark and mystical, still while we have life it is very nice and very natural to contemplate its future in cheerful fashion.’

‘The end of winter within reasonable distance, the darker months of winter past, the cycler will now watch eagerly for the first dawn of spring, and will equally eager expectancy will he look forward to his first holiday awheel. It is pleasant thus to anticipate happy times in store. I can already clearly imagine those jolly weekend spins; those early rides with the cooling breeze fanning the cheek, before the sun has attained its fiercest heat, and the pleasing smell of the country wood fire, reminding one of, and sharpening the appetite for, breakfast’.

‘It is all before us, and every day that passes hastens the approach of the wheel season. ‘Past and to come seem best, things present worst’, wrote poet William, of Stratford-on-Avon, many years ago, and today with London enveloped in solid fog, I feel inclined to endorse his opinion, and to look right ahead for the sunny months of the near future.’

Cycling Sources #2- A Tyranny of the Road, Part Two

It was not only pedestrians whose lives were made more dangerous by cyclists. Horse riders and those using horse drawn vehicles used the debate in The Times to write in and complain about how speeding cyclists were a menace to their and their horse’s safety. One correspondent commented how,

‘It may be observed on any high road, near any important town, at any time of general meeting of cyclists, that a stream of riders will spread themselves across a road, some-one among them steering directly for the head of an approaching horse until close quarters are reached, and then sheering off, giving an instance of dexterity and adding yet another excitement to the interest of the ride of himself and his companions. Little he knows of the anxiety of the driver, first as to whether his horse will stand the close approach of a machine which he does not readily get accustomed to, and the second trouble to the driver is whether the dexterity may be sufficient to avoid a serious collision.’

‘In every grade of life we meet with people who regard but little the safety and comfort of their neighbours. Cyclists seem to have a full proportion of these, and it is already a question with owners of nervous horses whether they will not have to part with them, rendered unserviceable and dangerous from the habits of the riders alluded to.’

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Cyclists and horses not getting on (and interesting which of the two cyclists is blamed for this?) Source: http://www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com/sims/

The reputation cyclists had for upsetting horses can be seen in Cycling’s response to the letters in The Times, which stated,

‘We impress upon all our readers the necessity of politeness and forbearance with pedestrians, equestrians, and other users of the highway, and we also impress upon them the necessity and safety of the exercise of care when passing horses.’

However, not all horse riders viewed cyclists unfavourably. One individual who wrote into The Times described how,

‘I am a horse rider and not a cyclist, but I must say that I have never had occasion to complain of the conduct of cyclists when on the road. This is possibly because I do not share the opinion that the roads are the private property of horse-owners. Some time ago I was riding a nervous mare, when a bicycle passed me, and she shied at it, as she would have done at a cock-sparrow. The cyclist at once stopped and apologised, although he was absolutely without blame. I said, ‘My dear fellow, don’t apologise; you have done nothing; it is I that should apologise to you for bringing a bad-mannered horse on the public road.’

If only such sentences were given utterance nowadays.

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Cyclists and horses getting on more happily. Source: http://www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com/sims/

One particularly contentious issue in this period was which class of riders were responsible for cycling’s poor reputation? One correspondent provided a very definite answer. They described how,

‘During the last 10 or 15 years I have noticed that the nuisance of the irresponsible cyclist gets worse every year. Formerly no one without means and education became a wheelman, but not everyone who can get together a few shillings a month can get one on the hire system. I do not find fault with that, but the class who do so are not, as a rule, attached to any recognised or responsible club, and never learn and practise the rules enforced by such clubs.’

However, such a theory did not bare up to reality. As the ‘two sisters’ mentioned in part one, it was ‘young middle-class Englishmen’ who resembled an ‘unruly mob’ whilst cycling. Rather than members of cycling clubs conforming to the rules of the road, it would appear that it was often the activities of these clubs which damaged cycling’s reputation. Cycling’s response to the letters in The Times commented how,

‘The wheelman-whom we will call selfish for want of a better term- is apt to show an impolite and an unnecessary impatience with pedestrians. He imagines that a ring from his bell, or a screech from his abominable horn, much perforce clear the highway in front of traffic and humanity alike.’

‘We regret very much to state it, but such is the case, that wheel clubs are as a rule the greatest offenders in this respect. We have frequently noticed that on the club run out of London the men will spread across the road four, five, and sometimes six abreast. It is granted that on an obstruction appearing in front the men will close in, but there is, as a rule, a ringing of bells and as a general, ‘you-must-get-out-of-our-way-can’t-you-see-us-coming’ sort of demeanour, which looks like an attempted monopoly, and is, undoubtedly, aggressive in the eyes of the public. The clubs must mend their ways in this respect, or we shall be having all sorts of unpleasantly binding regulations brought to bear on the cycler.’

This issue, that middle-class cyclists would damage the reputation of the pastime by behaving in a manner totally at odds with middle-class values such as politeness, decorum and self-control, cropped up continuously throughout the 1890s. The ways in which cycling journals negotiated this issue reveals much about late-Victorian class structure, for as in the letter above the blame was often shifted onto those cyclists who could only get together ‘a few shillings a month’. This will be a blog for another day, but to finish I will leave you with the figure who cycling journals blamed for the poor reputation of the pastime. His name? ‘Arry.

Cycling Sources #2- ‘A Tyranny of the Road’, Part One

The 1890s was not only the period when ‘Britain fell in Love with Cycling’. The increasing number of cyclists, combined with the increasing speeds they could travel, gave birth to strong feelings of opposition to ‘wheelers’, particularly from their fellow road users. Stories frequently appeared in newspapers describing desperado cyclists who would crash into people before hurrying off into the distance. One member of the Tottenham Cycling Club bemoaned the fact that,

‘A great portion of the non-riding public seem to think that it is one of the pleasures of cycling to knock some old woman down and then ride off.’

Cartoon from ‘The Picture Magazine’, Source: http://www.oldbike.eu/museum/magazines/humour/cycling-humour/

This ill feeling towards cyclists was on show in a series of letters which appeared in The Times from 1892. The letter below was the first to appear in the newspaper, and gave rise to a series of responses in which the activities of cyclists were discussed under the heading, ‘A Tyranny of the Road’. In his letter the writer, named ‘pedestrian’, commented how,

‘To many a business of professional man a walk along the green lanes of outer London or the pleasant main roads affords their only means of obtaining healthy and necessary exercise. This will soon become an impossibility, or, at all events, an extremely hazardous pastime, if the gentlemen of the wheel are allowed to continue their present style of racing along at the rate of 20 miles or more an hour, not to speak of hill descents, when it is the practice of a number of them, spread across the road, to rush down at headlong speed, more like a horde of Apaches or Sioux Indians, conches shrieking and bells going; and woe betide the luckless man or aught else coming in their way.’

Such a letter invited responses, and responses it got. Cycling, complained how one correspondent caricatured the average cyclist as,

‘A bloodthirsty desperado speeding on with dire and determined intent to slaughter men, women and children in his wild career.’

One particularly memorable letter in came from ‘two sisters’, who would often encounter cyclists on their walks out of London. It would appear they did not relish these occasions. They stated that,

‘In addition to the troubles mentioned by your correspondents of the other sex, there is another which only women experience in connection with these cycling, ‘tyrants of the road’. It is fast becoming impossible to take one’s exercise on any of the high roads leading out of London…on account of the bands of these young men on wheels who seem to be trying their best to turn one’s walk from pleasure into a penance. From ‘E.A.P.’s’ letter in defence of the cyclists, it would seem they are a mild and inoffensive class of men taking their pleasure in a mild and inoffensive manner; but, on the contrary, to become a cyclist apparently transforms an ordinary young middle-class Englishman into an active member of an unruly mob which it is fast becoming impossible to ignore.’

‘There is no law or order amongst them, and there is no attempt to keep to one side of the road. They come swirling along, sometimes 12 abreast, shouting to each other, or openly making remarks upon any ladies whom they happen to pass. Very often they do not even content themselves with bearing straight down upon one with overwhelming suddenness, but solitary cyclists will occasionally amuse themselves by adopting a serpentine coarse from one side of the road to the other, thus leaving a pedestrian undecided as to which way it is safest for her to take, and often obliging to retreat almost into the hedge until they have gone on their way laughing at her discomfiture. In a case like this a woman is powerless to do anything except look annoyed, which only increases their delight.’

File:Vélodrome Parc des Princes.jpg

Not who you would want to encounter on a quiet country walk

‘One of the causes of congratulation of the present day is that, as a rule, young Englishwoman can go for walks alone without attracting any special attention from men. This, however, is being rapidly changed by the cyclists. We may say that, in the course of numerous long walks, it is only the cyclists who have caused us annoyance. They make a point of trying to attract attention in unexpected ways, one of which is to let off a perfect volley of unnecessary alarm signals, and when off one’s guard for the moment one does happen to look up; the result is an impertinent leer and some silly and frivolous remark of a topical character such as, ‘Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay.’ (See British Cyclists in the Land of the Monsoo for more Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-aying).

‘There was a time when the attitude of cyclists was unobtrusive and even apologetic; this was when their number was comparatively small. Now, however, possibly in accordance with the proverb, ‘L’union fait la force (unity is strength) their recreation, the healthful advantage of which all are willing to allow, has degenerated into a veritable, ‘tyranny of the road.’

What could pedestrians do to defend themselves from such cyclists? Travel in groups? Contact a policeman? One individual who wrote in had developed an altogether more assertive method. The writer, signing as ‘self-help’, described how,

‘I always carry a good strong stick, with an iron point, and when a cyclist comes ringing his bell and expecting me to get out of his way, I hold my stick out to receive him. He sometimes laughs, and he sometimes swears, but he always takes good care not to run upon my stick.’

Perhaps drivers who don’t check their mirrors aren’t so bad after all.

Victorian Romances A-wheel, Part Two

Evidence for the romantic activities of Victorian cyclists can be found in all sorts of places. ‘Love Lane’, a quiet country road located in the countryside to the east of Lincoln, supposedly acquired its name because it was a popular haunt for cyclists who sought more private spaces for courting and romance. That cyclists used quiet spaces on the outskirts of cities as places for meetings with members of the opposite sex can also be seen in an article in the Aberdeen Weekly Journal from 1896, which commented how, ‘Albyn Lane, the once secluded vernal bye-way sacred to whispering lovers’, had become a place where,

‘Any fine evening maidens may be seen acquiring the art of cycling with the aid of their male friends and advisers, and the comicalities of the situation- the ill-concealed flirtation- the agonising efforts to sit on the bicycle- form a spectacle worth a visit.’

It was not only the middle-classes whose romantic lives benefited from the bicycle. For those living in rural working-class communities, possessing their own means of means of personal transportation allowed men and women to meet a much greater number of potential partners. P.J. Perry attributes the decline in same parish working-class marriages in rural Dorset the late 1880s to the bicycle and the greater distances it allowed individuals from these communities to travel.

The new possibilities that cycling opened up for men and women looking for romance were not celebrated by all of those living in Victorian society. Losing large amounts of control of the courting process was particularly worrying for middle-class parents and relatives. They could no longer monitor what went on whilst their children went courting, and there was the additional worry that they might meet ‘unsuitable matches’ below their social station whilst out cycling. As such efforts were made by family members to gain control of their sons and daughters cycling activities. One mother described how she started cycling after she saw,

‘Two of my husband’s nieces, who are not anything like so pretty as my three girls, had got engaged whilst bicycling. It was my duty as a mother, although an unpleasant one. Young men now-a-days are quite mad about bicycling. Formerly they used to come to one’s house; now their bicycling excursions always prevent them from doing so, and one always hears that Miss so-and-so is going with them. So I had to let my girls learn to ride too; and as I cannot let them go alone, I have had to learn as well in my old days, although it is torture to me. Do you think I would be such a fool as to ride at my age if I was not positively obliged to do so?’

For those mothers who wished to avoid such ‘torture’ altogether there was an alternative- cycling chaperones. In 1896 the Chaperone Cyclists’ Association was set up, whose members would accompany women on their rides to ensure nothing untoward took place. All members of the association were either wives, widows or unmarried ladies over the age of thirty. The service cost either three shillings sixpence (around £10.50 in modern money) for an hour, or ten shillings sixpence (about £31.50) for the day. The fact that there was no further mention of the association after 1896 suggests, perhaps unsurprisingly, that it didn’t last long. As one newspaper commented at the time,

‘As for its success we are doubtful. The cycling young lady is generally able to take care of herself without the aid of a chaperon, and we have an idea that wives, widows and spinsters above a certain age are not very congenial company for her.’

These themes can be seen in the article below, named ‘The Trails of a Cycling Chaperone’, which appeared in Cycling in 1897. In it a concerned mother gets ‘Miss Elderly’ to chaperone her daughter, whose cycling trips have led to meeting a young, penniless ‘ineligible’. Miss Elderly’s failed attempt to follow her young charge whilst cycling leaves her, ‘limp, weary and wholly miserable.’

The story of cycling romances does not stop with the young and single. For those who had left courtship and entered marriage cycling was an activity which both could enjoy on bicycles made for two. One member of the Stanley Club, reflecting on his cycling experiences, commented how,

‘Year in and year out I find no form of cycling so quietly enjoyable as to trundle out the tandem and take my wife for an impromptu, objectless, un-concerned dawdle through the bye-lanes.’

Another writer in the club’s gazette advised that if his fellow club men should marry then it was essential that they should choose a wife who shared their love of the pastime. He concluded his article with the sound advice to,

‘Pick out a rider who will be your accompanist in cycling excursions, and you will both be happy forever.’

Victorian Romances A-wheel, Part One

Daisy, Daisy,
Give me your answer do,
I’m half crazy,
All for the love of you,
It won’t be a stylish marriage,
I can’t afford a carriage,
But you’d look sweet on the seat,
Of a bicycle made for two.

Daisy Bell, first written by Harry Darce in 1892

‘There is something about a tandem, if it steers easily, which softens the iron-bound laws of custom.’

The Leeds Express, 1898

Many young men and women living in Victorian Britain seized on the bicycle as a means of finding love and romance. Much cycling literature in this period tells of the possibilities cycling opened up to young would-be couples, and in particular those from middle class backgrounds.

File:Daisybell.jpg

Middle class courtship in this period was a carefully controlled, slow moving process, in which the woman’s family had a lot of clout in choosing who and who wasn’t a suitable match. The first step, of a man ‘calling’ on a woman was one which could only take place at the woman’s invitation. Courtship advanced by subtle gradations, with couples first speaking, then walking out together, and finally keeping company once their mutual attraction had been confirmed. ‘Chaperones’- middle-aged and elderly ladies, would often accompany the couple whilst they were courting to ensure that nothing untoward took place.

In the face of such structures it is perhaps not surprising that many young men and women seized on the bicycle as a means of escaping the conventions of middle-class society. The bicycle took them away from stuffy drawing rooms and carefully monitored conversation into environments which contained no such constraints. As one writer explained,

‘The chief merit of the bicycle in the eyes of the young is that it dispenses with the chaperon. It imparts open air freedom and freshness to a life heretofore cribbed, crabbed, cabined and confined by convention. The cyclists have collided with the unamiable Mrs Grundy (a voice for conservative opinion in this period), and have ridden triumphantly over her prostrate body.’

An article in the Huddersfield Chronicle from 1896 gives some idea about what might have gone on when young groups of men and women went cycling together. The piece commented how,

‘Cycling parties are often got up, and the ride is still young when the cyclists tend to sort themselves into couples, each couple usually consisting of a lad and a lass. And soon the mental as well as the physical effect of the ride commences its influence. The exhilarating exercise gives a sense of well-being, and tends to lessen restraint and convention of manner; the beautiful and unaccustomed scenery, the rushing through wooded tracts and sunlit meadows, is extremely conductive to a fatal form of sentimentality, and often before the cyclometer reaches ten miles Jack is speaking ‘sweet nothings’ to Jill who is too happy and light-hearted to snub or repel him.’

The article’s conclusion certainly suggests that the events on a cycle ride could speed up the courting process.

‘Then, too, there are many punctures done on purpose, which necessitates a tete a tete walk home- for surely no gentleman would allow a lady to walk home by herself- in the gloaming, or nuts may be lost (or carried in the pocket); and the stars are peeping before the weary, worn and travel stained couple arrive home full of anathemas upon their misfortune, but in reality, probably, if not engaged, often on the brink of engagement.’

Of course the writer may have over-exaggerated the case. The cartoon below which appeared in the Windsor Magazine suggests for a much longer courting process.

Bicycle rides were also places where men and women could meet for the first time. Punctured tyres could leave women stranded by the side of the road, and in need of some gallant soul to provide them with assistance. This was a period when women were not expected to have much mechanical knowledge- the greasy hands, oiled clothes and a sweaty face which often accompany bike repairs could all be seen as markedly, ‘un-womanly’. This meant few women ever learnt how to mend tyres or repair their bicycles, and as such were dependent of men’s help. As was said by one lady member of the Tottenham Cycling Club,

‘I doubt very much if many ladies mend their own tyres. I confess I should have to look for a mere man in such case, and would welcome his assistance, as I don’t feel anxious to learnt how to do it, having no fondness for pinching my fingers.’

Meetings between men and women whose bicycle’s had broken down do seem to have occurred, and sometimes led to something more. One article in the Stanley gazette commented that,

‘Two or three girls we know of found, ‘friends in need’ (whilst cycling), which later turned out to be friends indeed, for they married those girls.’

Part of the attraction of cycling for single men may indeed have been little fantasies about such events occurring. H.G. Wells’ short cycling story, A Perfect Gentleman on Wheels, involves the main character meeting a, ‘very pretty girl’ at the side of a road who had punctured her tyre. Wells commented that,

‘Now this is the secret desire of all lone men who do down into the country on wheels. The proffered help, the charming talk, the idyllic incident. Who knows what delightful developments?’

Who knows indeed?

A Difficult Relationship- Victorian Cyclists and the Police, Part Two

Surprisingly, Victorian cyclists’ greatest complaint against the police was not the rough and ready manner in which they were made to ‘dismount’ from their machines. It was the reasons by which they were arrested for ‘furious riding’. In this period a cyclist could be arrested for,

‘Riding and driving furiously, or so endangering the life or limbs of any person, or the common danger of passengers on the thoroughfare.’

As such cyclists who policemen judged to be travelling ‘excessively fast’ (generally anything over 14 m.ph.) could be arrested, prosecuted and fined. The main cause of disagreements between cyclists and policemen rested on the fact that it was the police who judged a cyclists’ speed. In a period before speed guns this was, of course, a rather arbitrary judgement. One disgruntled cyclist from the Tottenham Cycling Club in London described how they were travelling down a hill at night at ten miles an hour, when,

‘Noticing something black at the foot of the hill, I rang the bell. Immediately the something in black began to wave its arms and cape, taking up the whole of the roadway, and yelling, ‘Hi! Go steady will yer. No scorching on this road or I’ll soon ‘ave yer off!’

The article concluded by cautioning fellow club-men against, ‘furiously loitering’ in the area. The dislike cyclists had for policemen can be seen in how they often caricatured them as rather simple, aggressive folk. One letter into Cycling described how,

‘On Sunday week a ‘bumptious bobby’ stood in the middle of the gateway at Richmond Park, and as two cyclists carefully passed him at a slow speed, he offensively remarked, ‘We’ll ‘ave yer comin’ back.’

Cycling magazines in the 1890s were full of complaints from cyclists who felt they had been unfairly charged with ‘furious riding’ by policemen. Another letter into Cycling in 1897 commented that,

‘Many of the recent cases appear little better than highway robbery up-to-date; and it is positively a fact that in some places it is absolutely dangerous to be out on the road with a cycle.’

The same letter expressed a widely held view, that as police were incapable of catching those cyclists travelling excessively fast they would simply charge the next group of cyclists they encountered to make up for this.

What then could cyclists do to fight the persecution they felt they were dealt at the hands of the police? One possibility was protest. The Manchester Courier reported on an ‘extraordinary demonstration of cyclists’ which took place outside a police station in Altrincham. The article described how,

‘Shortly after nine o’clock about 150 riders appeared coming in the direction of Altrincham. Bells and whistles were going the whole of the time, and one of the individuals in the centre of the group had a large hand bell which he rang continuously as they passed the police station.’

Other cyclists were more devious. The Manchester Courier described another case where,

‘Two cyclists were propelling a tandem safety, the front man was plugging steadily on with his head down, as is his wont, whether going fast or slow; the back man, noticing they were approaching a policeman, sat up and folded his arms to show how slow the pace really was. They were going about eight miles per hour. The officer called upon them to stop, and running alongside, seized the machine, nearly throwing the tandem and it’s riders over. The officer only wanted the name and address of the front rider, as he said he could see the other man was going steadily enough.’

This made, you would imagine, for a very awkward ride home.

A Difficult Relationship- Victorian Cyclists and the Police, Part One

It is fair to say that cyclists and the police did not get on in Victorian Britain. In a period before motor vehicles cyclists were often the fastest road users on British roads, which meant they represented a much greater hazard to pedestrians and others using Britain’s highways. As such the police took a particular zeal in stopping cyclists who they viewed as breaking the law and being a danger to other road users. In turn, cyclists felt a strong resentment towards the ‘tyranny’ and ‘injustice’ they felt they often experienced at the hands of the police.

There were two main reasons why the police would stop a cyclist for breaking the law. The first was cycling without a lamp after ‘lighting up’ time. Every week ‘lighting up’ times were published in newspapers and cycling magazines, which told cyclists the time after which they were legally required to cycle with a light on their bicycles. If they did not have a light they were liable to be stopped and fined by the police.

Cyclists did not so much complain about this, as the manner in which they were stopped. For a policeman in the 1890s, stopping a cyclist posed a much greater problem than it would today. This was due to the simple reason that the police had no means of going faster than the cyclists travelling past them; if a fast moving cyclist went past a policeman and ignored their call to stop there was not a lot a policeman could do except wave their fist angrily as the cyclist disappeared into the sunset.

As such some policeman developed rather extreme methods of bringing to a halt cyclists who were travelling without lamps. In 1897 the Leeds Express reported on the case of a cyclist who prosecuted a policeman for assault after the policeman ‘stopped’ him for riding at night without a light. The cyclist was travelling along a quiet road at night, when he suddenly encountered a policeman, who,

‘In his zeal for due enforcement of the lighting up law, gave no warning whatsoever, but rushed suddenly out of a gap in the hedge and laid violent hands on the rider.’

This left the cyclist rather shaken and badly injured; however his case for assault was dismissed by the magistrate. Similarly, one cyclist writing into Cycling in 1894 described how,

‘Two friends and myself were returning from Ripley last night, on a tandem and a single. When we reached Ditton Marsh a plain clothes police officer (No.65) rushed into the road, at the same time catching hold of the handlebars of the tandem, throwing us off. He went through this idiotic and dangerous performance because, in his opinion, our light was not giving ‘sufficient’ light. We said he was exceeding his duty. ‘65’ thought otherwise, and said he would stop us or any other cyclist whose lamp was not giving ‘sufficient’ light.’

New York Cycling policeman in the 1890s (I could not find any British examples) (source: http://www.oldbike.eu/museum/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/1895-new-york-police-bicycle-squad.jpg)

There were of course other ways of bringing cyclists to a halt. Rather than tackling machines and riders to the ground, police would sometimes use the less violent method of a road block. Again,  in a period before cars, the police needed to use more novel methods for blocking the road.

One article in the Leeds Express described how a constable on horseback, standing side on in the middle of the road, was used to stop law breaking cyclists passing through.  Another stated how the police would buckle a couple of their capes together and hold them at arm’s length across the road. The article described in positive terms how being stopped by this method allowed cyclist to jump off their machines backward, and so avoid being roughly manhandled to the ground.

Not so gentle were the methods reported in the Bristol Mercury, which stated that it was necessary to,

‘Point out to thoughtful policemen that there are certain dangers attached to the rough and ready method adopted in many places of stopping cyclists with a stick.’

Elaborating on how sticks were used to stop cyclists, the article commented that,

‘We are sure that though a policeman uses a stick to stop a cyclist he has no intention of making an extemporary brake of it by placing it through the wheels. He simply puts it in front of the machine or the cyclist as a sign that the rider must stop, and does not think of the dangers of the proceeding. It is the easiest thing imaginable, however, if the cyclist disregards the signal, for the stick to become mixed up with the machine, to catch in the wheel or some other part, with the result that a serious accident occurs.’

After reading accounts such as these, it is easy to find yourself picturing Victorian policeman not those seen in the images above, but as the duo below.