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.1890

From 1896, first published in The Badminton Magazine, written by Susan, Countess of Malmesbury
(found at roads were not built for cars)

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A new sport has lately been devised by the drivers of hansom cabs. It consists of chasing the lady who rides her bicycle in the streets of the metropolis…

Having now been the quarry of the Hansom cabman for nearly a year, and having given him several exciting runs, I cannot help feeling that cycling in the streets would be nicer, to use a mild expression, if he id not try to kill me…

I launched my little cockleshell early one Sunday morning in July into the stormy oceans of Sloane Street, Knightsbridge, and Park Lane, on my way to visit a sick friend who lived about four miles off, beyond Regent’s Park. The streets were really very clear, but I shall never forget my terror. I arrived in about two hours, streaming and exhausted, much more in need of assistance than the invalid I went to console. Coming home it was just as bad; I reached my house about three o’clock and went straight to bed, where I had my luncheon, in a state of demoralisation bordering on collapse. I only recount this adventure in order to encourage others who may have had the same experience as myself, but who, unlike me, may not have tried to conquer their nervousness.

What cured my fear was the purchase of a little shilling book called, I believe, ‘Guide to Cycling’, wherein it is written that cycles are ‘vehicles within the meaning of the Act.’ I then realised that I had an actual legal existence on the roadway, that my death by lawless violence would be avenged, and that I was not , what I had hitherto felt myself to be, like the lady, hated both of gods and men, who

‘Cast the golden fruit upon the board’-
I mean, my cycle on the streets -
And bred this change.’

Yes, I had as good a right to my life as even my arch-enemy the hansom, or my treacherous companion the butcher’s cart. I and my machine were no longer like a masterless dog, and if we were scouted from the pavement, at least we would take modestly but firmly, if need be, our proper breathing room in the road.

Cautious and alert, I merrily proceeded on my way, using my bicycle as a means of doing my morning shopping or other business.

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