Gilbert's Letter to The Times of 29 September 1902
Issue 36885, pg. 4 col F


The Motor Problem


Sir,--I have quite recently taken to "motoring," but I have already found reason to believe that the 12-mile limit is quite reasonable, and should not be exceeded.

Yesterday I was travelling in my "steam" motor-car along a country road, skirted on the near side by a long reach of dead wall. At the end of the dead wall was a narrow lane giving on to the road upon which I was travelling. There was nothing to indicate the existence of this lane until within a few yards of the end of the wall. As we reached the turning an elderly gentleman on a bicycle, travelling at a reasonable speed, suddenly came from the lane into the road, and turned in the direction from which we were coming. A collision necessarily ensued; the gentleman threw himself off his bicyle, and so injured his knee; the bicycle was smashed by the car, and the car was turned into a ditch on the off-side. The car, which was in charge of an experienced driver who had been specially cautioned by me not to exceed the statutory limit, was travelling at about ten or 11 miles an hour, and so it happened that the results of the collision were not very serious; but had I been going at the rate of 25 or 30 miles an hour, as advocated by so many of your correspondents, the bicyclist would almost certainly have been killed and the occupants of the car most seriously injured. The gentleman on the bicycle stated that he sounded his bell as he approached the corner, and I have no doubt he did so, but, owing perhaps to the intervention of a double thickness dead wall, it was not heard by any one in the car, which travels almost noiselessly.

The dangers involved by bicyclists turning suddenly on to unfrequented country roads, the sudden on-rush of small children, or the action of thoughtless trap drivers, who take it for granted that the road into which they are turning will be unencumbered by traffic, supply sufficient reasons for so limiting the rate of travel that if an unavoidable accident should occur its consequences will be reduced to a minimum.

I am your obedient servant,

Harrow Weald, Sept. 27.
W.S. GILBERT
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