Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Southern Maine
Bikes: 2006 Giant Cypress EX (7-speed internal hub)
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Well, I just happened to have purchased Bob Mionske's book Bicycling and the Law
last summer, and in the introduction, he relates in part (emphasis
... And so it was that, about noon on one particularly beautiful spring day in New York City, Miss Evylyn Thomas was riding her Columbia bicycle south on Broadway, on the Upper West Side, as was the fashion for fashionable New Yorkers on beautiful spring days. It was Memorial Day -- a Saturday -- May 30, 1896. ...
Driving north on Broadway was one of those new horseless carriages that people had heard about, but were seeing for the first time only now. At the wheel of the Duryea Motor Wagon -- that's what the Duryea brothers, Charles and Frank, called their new horseless carriage -- was Mr. Henry Wells of Springfield, Massachusetts. ...
As Mr. Wells was driving north near Broadway's intersection with West 74th Street, Miss Thomas was approaching the intersection from the opposite direction. Shortly after noon, near this intersection, something went wrong with Wells' vehicle, and their paths fatefully crossed. Wells lost control of the Duryea, and it begin to zigzag up the street toward Miss Thomas. The sight of a horseless carriage erratically bearing down on her in a zigzagging path appears to have confused Miss Thomas; Wells' vehicle collided with her, and Thomas was knocked from her bicycle into the street. As a crowd gathered at the scene of the collision, Miss Thomas was picked up, unconscious, and taken by ambulance to Manhattan Hospital with a fractured leg. Wells was arrested and taken to the police station at West 125th Street, where he was held while the police awaited word of Miss Thomas' condition. ... It was reported later that night that Miss Thomas would soon recover.
It's unclear what the final resolution of the collision between Mr. Wells' Duryea and Miss Thomas' Columbia was, but the events of that long-ago Memorial Day are significant as being the first reported automobile accident resulting in an injury, as well as the first reported automobile accident resulting in an arrest. From our twenty-first-century vantage point, we cyclists can note with some irony that the first reported automobile accident involved a collision with a bicycle.