What’s old is new again

The right to ride bikes in the road is more than 125 years old – and here’s proof!

“One of the most imperative duties of city governments in this country is to keep their public streets in such a condition that citizens can travel along them with safety, and without any unnecessary delay.

“Each citizen has the absolute right to choose for himself the mode of conveyance he desires, whether it be by wagon or carriage, by horse, motor or electric car, or by bicycle, or astride of a horse, subject to the sole condition that he will observe all those requirements that are known as the ‘law of the road.’

“This right of the people to the use of the public streets of a city is so well established and so universally recognized in this country that it has become a part of the alphabet of fundamental rights of the citizen.

“While the tyranny of the American system of government very largely consists in the action of the municipal authorities, this right has not yet been questioned or attempted to be abridged. There can be no question, then, but what a citizen riding on a bicycle in that part of the street devoted to the passage of vehicles is but exercising his legal right to its use, and a city ordinance that attempted to forbid such use of that part of a public street would be held void, as against common right.”

Swift v. City of Topeka, 43 Kan. 671, 23 P. 1075, 1076 (1890).