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County Kildare History and Heritage

Gordon Bennett Motor Race 1903

Intro and Menu | April Articles

Leinster Leader, Saturday 25 April 1903 – Page 7.


The Cyclists Touring Club, London, forwarded the following bye-law adopted by the Hull Corporation and asked that the matter be brought before the Council:-“Every tradesman’s van or other covered vehicle intended to be driven by a person sitting inside thereof shall be so constructed with side windows or otherwise as to enable such person to see the approach of vehicles behind or either side thereof, and the user of any such vehicle not so constructed who allows the same to be driven in any street or public place shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to the penalty hereinafter provided.”
Chairman: I think they are taking too much of their own way.
Mr. Minch: Oh, they have taken possession of the roads altogether.
Chairman: We’ll mark it read. We can’t interfere with the people and their vans.
Mr. St. John: I think the notice of the Council should be drawn to the speed that some of the bicycles go at. It is becoming quite a dangerous thing on the footways.
Chairman: Do you suggest we should get notices printed and put up around the town.
Mr. St. John: Oh no. I merely throw out the suggestion as to whether it would be desirable to consider the matter.
Clerk: The Local Government Board have issued some regulations about the subject of these light vehicles – 14 miles an hour I think is the limit.
Mr. Deegan: Does Mr. St. John mean motor cars or bicycles?
Mr. St. John said he referred to young fellows who ride the bicycles in a reckless way.
Mr. Minch: I was under the impression that Mr. St. John was referring to the motor cars and motor bicycles. We approve and encourage in every way the motor race taking place in the County Kildare and through the town of Athy. Some gentlemen think this is quite sufficient to give them a monopoly of the roads of the country quite irrespective of danger to the public. I have seen motor cars myself going from 30 to 40 miles an hour.
Clerk: I saw them going through the town at 40 miles an hour.
Mr. Minch: So recently as last week on the road between Athy and Timolin I saw a man in serious trouble with his horse and trap owing to a motor car coming in the distance behind. I saw the gentleman put up his hand and the horse plunged on the side of the road. The only response he received was the continual blowing of the horn and the motor car passed at a speed of at least 25 miles an hour. I am not referring to the gentleman[sic] engaged in the Race and making arrangements for it but to those gentlemen who go around the course. I think it is high time to show that those who walk on the footpath and those who drive horses and traps on the road receive little consideration from those gentlemen, and I think it would be well if we drew the attention of the authorities to this fact.

Mr. M. E. Doyle said he saw a man thrown over the ditch. In another instance of which he was aware a pony stumbled, fell and had its knees cut. Attention should be drawn to the matter.
Mr. St. John - I think that the safety of the general public should be considered before the convenience of cyclists or motorists.
Mr. M. Doyle said that there were a great number of deaf and lame and old people and those had to be considered. He saw members of the Constabulary checking some motorists. Passing through the town at forty miles an hour was only courting destruction. It was time they should take action.
Chairman: Will we have a letter written to the police?
Mr. Minch: Certainly. It would be to strenghten their hands. I am quite satisfied that the Constabulary are quite mindful of this question, but they don’t appear to be supported by their superiors. They have reported the circumstances of what they see, consequently in order to strenghten their hands I think it is absolutely necessary that we, officially, call their attention to it.
Clerk: Will I write to the County Inspector?
Mr. Minch: No, but to the District Inspector here to strengthen his hands.
Mr. Doyle: We don’t object to the race going on, but to some of those preliminaries.
The matter dropped.