Eric Lundgren is a local historian currently researching a book on Portland’s bike history.
As part of that research, he has found an interesting article published by the Oregonian in 1897. The article (pasted below) shows that the sometimes rocky relationship between the police and “wheelmen” is nothing new.
Here is the article:
PROTECTION FOR ABUSED BICYCLISTS – Bicyclists, whose experience has led them to regard the police as their bitter and implacable enemy, will no doubt be pleased to learn that they are mistaken. The fact is, that wheelmen are really very near to the hearts of the police, and the objects of their tenderest solictude.
This is evidenced by an order recently issued to a patrolman to strictly enforce the throwing of glass, nails, and other enemies to the bicyclist’s peace of mind, on streets and sidewalks. Of course, it is well known that ordinances are not supposed to be enforced unless special orders to that effect are given, and wheelmen may feel very grateful to think so much consideration may be given them.
If the ordinance is strictly enforced, the annoying habits of certain misanthropes of placing tacks and bottle necks in the paths of bicyclists will be checked by fine and imprisonment, and soon a wheelman may safely ride through the city without rooting his eyes apprehensively on the sidewalks in front of him.