WAR WAGED ON WHEELS. - Bicycles and Bicyclists in the Tight Clutches of the Law. - The San Francisco Call, 06 Feb 1896

From Wooljersey


Bicycles and Bicyclists in the Tight Clutches of the Law.


Initial Effort by the Police to Enforce the New Bicycle Ordinance.

Cycling residents of the Mission are in a state of boiling indignation. Last night no less than twenty-one of them were cut short in the midst of their whizzing career and cast into prison by the hard-hearted minions of the law. Twenty-one free American citizens they were, and they protested loudly as they gave in their names. F. P. Molloy, G. W. Hicks, H. Waltman, William Neal, W. H. Mack, Alfred Coutre, Alfred Ehmenn, Emil Languetin, J. S. Brown, Albert Arens, Louis Adler, T. W. Boyd, Archibald Reid, J. T. Whelan, E. E. Burmer, S. Bergstein, J. Utschig, G. W. Thomas, Richard L. Radke and E. Loudeck were the unfortunates. They were arrested at various times during the afternoon and evening, the majority being taken in after nightfall.

Captain Gillin of the Seventeenth-street police station was kept busy entering the names of his unwilling guests on the register, while little by little the station commenced to take on the appearance of a bicycle warehouse. Twenty-one "wheels" of various makes and differing degrees of excellence, each machine tagged with a card bearing its rider's name, were distributed over the floor of the station-house. In each case the wheeler was caught on the run and the wheel was invariably taken into custody as well, to be held as evidence, the officers said.

The wheels, in fact, fared worse than the wheelers, seeing that the latter, for the most part, succeeded in obtaining their release on the payment of $20 cash bail, while the machines were in every instance held tight in the unrelenting clutch of the law, in which clutch they still remain.

"Did you get that $20 yet?” asked a boyish voice, and a beardless face appeared at the tiny wicket in one of the cells. Young Loudeck had caught sight of a friend whom he had sent to his home for the cash requisite to secure his liberation. "The folks were out spending the evening,” answered the friend, whereat Loudeck's countenance fell; "but I guess they'll be back soon. I left a note for them."

"It's a shame, anyhow," exclaimed Loudeck, ready to cry with vexation. "I was creeping along as slow as could be, and the cop was hiding behind a tree and jumped me as I passed him."

From another cell came a wailing duet, also in boyish cadence, from the sweater-muffled throats of Masters Arens and Phelan.

"Are we going to stay here all night, I should like to know?" inquired Phelan, with a groan.

"I'm sure I don't know,” responded Arens in a tone no less lugubrious.

"Never mind, boys," chimed in Arens Sr., who stood outside the wicket administering what consolation he could to his son in bonds.

"If Judge Campbell doesn't release you soon I'll bail you out, never fear."

This ray of hope seemed to comfort the boys, who resigned themselves to the circumstances as gracefully as they could. The officers state that they are able to prove a manifest violation of the bicycle ordinance in each case. Either the boys were riding too fast or neglected to ring their bells when crossing points at the intersection of streets, so the officers claim, and an interesting scene in court is anticipated when the offenders come up for trial.

The cyclers claim that they have been singled out by the police as easy game, since a man can be arrested on a bicycle with the greatest facility by merely upsetting his equilibrium, and, as one boy in bloomers remarked pithily, "The more men they pulls in the better their chances is.”

Others claimed that the California Wheelmen's Club is the special object of the policemen's persecuting zeal. At all events, the devotees of the wheel are involved in a test case, which will serve as a precedent for the future.

One young man, who was arrested, complains of his treatment at the Seventeenth-street police station. He says that although not riding fast he was put into a cell by an officer who cursed him in a rude way. He said: "I asked for permission to telephone to my employer so that I might explain the cause of my delay, but this favor was refused; my request being greeted with derisive taunts. They also refused to let me send a messenger to my friends so that I could get bail."