The Velocipede Nuisance

"The American Velocipede," wood engraving sketched by Theodore R. Davis. Published in "Harper's Weekly Magazine," December 19, 1868.

“The American Velocipede,” wood engraving sketched by Theodore R. Davis. Published in “Harper’s Weekly Magazine,” December 19, 1868.

I found this little notice in The Wellington Enterprise published August 10, 1876 and thought it was worth sharing. “Liberty street” is now called West Herrick Avenue.

“We hear the business men on the north side of Liberty street complain of the velocspede [sic] nuisance; that is, the riders confine all theirs exercises to that thoroughfare and their side of the street, without giving the other fellows a share of the benefit. Oftentimes it makes it very awkward for ladies, and gents too, to go dodging from one side of the walk to the other to escape the uncertain movements of some learner who is laying out a plan for a rail fence along the walk” (pg. 3).

By 1892, residents and business owners were so united in their opposition to wheeled vehicles in pedestrian areas that the Town Council passed, “An Ordinance to Regulate the Use of Bicycles, Tricycles, and Velocipedes on Sidewalks.” Within a year, the Council was passing a resolution to order Mayor George Couch to enforce the new law. Its full text was printed in The Wellington Enterprise on May 3, 1893 with the injunction, “Read it with care and be governed accordingly” (pg. 5).

Happily, Wellington now has a much more welcoming attitude toward cyclists. The annual Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA) began from the Wellington Fairgrounds in 2008, and every summer the town is thronged with folks stopping for a rest or a meal in the midst of their two-wheeled adventures.

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