THE PLEA OF THE WHEELMEN. - The San Francisco Examiner, 12 Sep 1894
See the preceding days' articles, RIGHTS OF THE HORSE AND THE BICYCLE ON PARK ROADS. - The San Francisco Examiner, 10 Sep 1894 and WHAT THE BICYCLISTS WOULD LIKE TO DO IN THE PARK. - The San Francisco Examiner, 11 Sep 1894, which this article references. Currently, there is an attempt to restore cars to the sections of Golden Gate Park that are currently car-free, due to the pandemic. Some of the same agitations between classes and castes, between four wheels and two are evident in these two 1894 articles as are evident now.
THE PLEA OF THE WHEELMEN.
Bicyclers Agitating the Opening of the Main Drive to Them.
A MASS MEETING SUGGESTED.
The League of American Wheelmen Will Consider What Steps Should Be Taken to Remove the Restrictions on Bicycles - Result of The Agitation in New York - A Wheelman's suggestions.
The plea of the bicycle riders for equal privileges in Golden Gate Park with horseback riders and drivers is becoming louder and louder.
Every man who owns a wheel is discussing the discrimination. It bids fair to drown temporarily that other plea for equal rights that the advanced woman is voicing so strenuously.
The wheelmen are confident that out of the agitation will come some adjustment of the difficulty - at least an improvement in the restrictions now enforced pending the time when the Park shall have special runs for wheelmen on which they may get to the Cliff at all times without climbing hard hills and reach the music and wheel around Stow lake. Meanwhile, of course, the bicyclers will continue to call the horsemen road hogs and the horsemen will refer to the riders of the wheel as hoodlums a condition of things, by the way, that is not likely to lead to a pleasant settlement of the problem.
It so happens that all the Park Commissioners are enthusiastic drivers. There is no record that any one of them even straddled a bone-shaker in his youth. When the next change is made in the personnel of the Board of Park Commissioners the wheelmen propose to bring all their influence to bear to get a Commissioner who will sympathize with their troubles.
The matter is being discussed at all the meetings of the various wheeling clubs, and the proposition has been broached of a grand mass-meeting of men interested in cycling. The next annual meeting of the League of American Wheelmen, which will probably be held in this city within a few weeks, will consider the question.
Eastern wheelmen refer with emphasis to the famous fight in New York State to open Central Park, when the League of American Wheelmen won. The Liberty bill, as it was called, was passed through the New York State Legislature under the able management of Charles W. Suscomb, who is again President of the L. A. W.
Roscoe Conkling acted for the wheelmen, and this Liberty bill not only opened every drive in Central Park, but every park in New York State, and the League of American Wheelmen have had similar bills passed in a score of other States since that fight.
The main point of this hotly contested bill was that a bicycle was a vehicle, and entitled to the same rights as a horse and carriage.
An Old Wheelman's View.
To the Editor of the Examiner - SIR: As an old wheelman permit me to have my little say. In your interview with Mr. McLaren yesterday he gave as a reason why cyclists should be excluded from Stow lake that "there are a great many elderly ladies and gentlemen as well as cripples and people in ill health who are driven out to the Park every warm day and who would find it utterly impossible to climb the grade leading to the lake. They would miss the beauty of the spot by never visiting it if they were compelled to go there on foot." Very well, but how about the many women who labor hard all the week in our public schools "who would miss the beauty of the spot by never visiting it if they were compelled to go there on foot instead of on their wheels. To even up matters why not set aside a portion of the time to those who are not so fortunate as to possess carriages from which to view the beauties of the spot? Moreover, by shutting out cyclists from the use of the roads surrounding the lake it compels them to make a long circuit around the base of Strawberry Hill if they should desire to go from the main to the south drive.
There is no good reason why we should not be permitted to go through the main drive at any time. The contention that it is too crowded at certain times to make it dangerous for wheelmen is absurd to anyone who has ever seen the wheels struggle to hold their own in the crowded thoroughfares of London, Paris, New York, Chicago, or any other large city where cycling is general.
The closing of this road simply keeps away many women and elderly riders who are not able to scale the steep grade back of the Conservatory.
In Mr. Jones' interesting letter he says, in writing of the speed limit for teams: "When the Park is comparatively empty that limit is frequently exceeded."
The Park police are an intelligent body of men and they don't make arrests unnecessarily, but only enforce the rule when absolutely necessary.
Their "intelligence" must be reserved exclusively, then, for the use of horsemen as to "only enforce the rule when absolutely necessary," as can be attested by the experience of every cyclist who has ever ridden in the Park. What kind of intelligence is that which prompted a policeman to compel me to light my lamp even after I had timidly pointed to a man sitting on an adjacent bench reading a newspaper, fondly hoping that he might see in that incident something suggestive of daylight. Can the policeman who turned me back from entering the sacred precincts after riding from the beach tired and heated at two minutes before the time when I should be "permitted" to enter, boast of any share of that intelligence which is supposed to give him a dead pointer as to when to enforce the rule? I could give you innumerable instances of these pretty little annoyances as I have been riding in the Park for many years, but I want to give the others a chance. The lamp ordinance is another absurd thing. It is supposed to be for the protection of wheelmen, but if the Commissioners suppose a lamp is any protection to wheelmen let them ride a bicycle at nighttime with a lamp attached. If they want to protect the wheelmen let them compel the drivers to carry lamps, or else give us electric lights. I believe the Commissioners are doing everything in their power in the interests of all classes, but the trouble is they not being wheelmen do not understand the case.
I would, therefore, respectfully suggest that Mr. Stow, being President of the board, learn to ride a bicycle, and I have no doubt that in less than a month - he will be a scorcher by that time - matters will be arranged to suit the most exacting.