Speeding along at eight m.p.h …

By Sandra L. Brown

March 2, 2017 12:00 AM

There were plenty of daredevils at the dawn of the automobile

Eight miles per hour doesn’t sound very fast nor does the nominal increase to 12 mph; however, even at these speeds problems occurred. 
There were mishaps as both man and beast didn’t always cooperate with each other, not to mention the unpredictability of the first automobiles. 
Accidents resulted from poor weather conditions, lack of proper roads, broken wheels, spooked horses and inexperienced drivers. 
Accustomed to driving in England on the opposite side of the road presented a rather fortuitous encounter. 
Stories of renegade riders, both on horses or snagging a thrilling sleigh ride behind a wagon or automobile emerged. 
After the tracks arrived in 1905, the trains coming through town added a new element of recklessness. Unwisely racing trains to the crossings and just lack of good old common sense didn’t help the matter. 
In 1905 a team of oxen bolted and their rope caught the surprised owner around the knee dragging him through a slough. 
He was incapacitated for a few days. 
A spirited horse stumbled and threw its rider to the ground.
The injured rider was able to seek help from a nearby homestead and driven into town.
He needed stitches for a severed artery and eventually was able to return home.
Many by-laws relating to traffic were passed and enforced in 1907. 
Of interest is by-law number 12 which stated horses could not be ridden or driven faster than eight m.p.h. on Lloydminster streets. 
Sidewalks were off limits for bicycles, and all stock animals including horses. 
Incidentally, folks were not permitted to use horns, ring bells, use bad language, play a game or loiter on the sidewalk, street or on any public ground.
Some social courtesies have undoubtedly changed.
Passed in 1908, a winter bylaw stated that sleigh bells must be used to alert others of their approach. 
This included any teams of horses, mules, oxen or any other driving animals. 
A maximum fine of $20 plus prosecution cost was given to offenders.
In January 1910, the early morning train bound from Edmonton had its tender (fuel car) go off the tracks about two miles west of Lloydminster.  The tender ploughed along the rails breaking an axle before coming to a stop.
Its engine proceeded to Lloydminster so that a telegraph could be sent out for help. 
Aid quickly arrived from Vermilion and Battleford. 
After blocking the line for 18 hours, the train proceeded on its way. 
No one was injured and damage was minimal. 
The accident’s cause was unknown; however, it was believed that the intense weather was a contributing factor. 
The thermometer registered —59 F.
Riders were thrown out of their wagon after a spooked team caught a wheel on the wooden sidewalk while turning a corner. 
Both mother and child were shook up and bruised as the driver fought to control the panicked team.
With the novelty of the automobile, stories began of motorists frightening horses and startling folks on Lloydminster streets. 
In 1921 a speed limit of 12 miles per hour was enforced for all motor vehicles. 
September, saw reports of excessive speeding which continued to take place. Police curbed speeders, but this was a reoccurring problem since the passing of the bylaw. 
It must have been exciting for the drivers as the speed capability of the first automobiles progressed to 30 mph. 
In 1923, Edmonton was the site of a world record automobile jump. 
A driver and passenger in an open air car sped over a ramp and covered 73-ft before abruptly hitting the ground.
While performing their own daredevil feats on Lloydminster streets, drivers remind me of this feat not so much as leaving the asphalt, but leaving their lack of respect for traffic laws behind.
They say each new generation inherits from its past…that we can learn from past patterns and mistakes.
I don’t want to steer you in the wrong direction folks, but Lloydminster’s past doesn’t have to define the present when it comes to safe driving and following posted speeds. 
Let’s bring back common courtesy for each other and make our streets safer. 
After all, we’ve progressed a long way from the horse and buggy days speeding along at eight m.p.h.

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