How far we have gone!

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Peter, Memphis TN
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How far we have gone!

Post by Peter, Memphis TN » Mon May 20, 2019 11:56 pm

On May 20, 1899, which I make out to be 120 years ago, Taxi driver Jacob German was pulled over and arrested by a police officer riding a bicycle for speeding down Manhattan's Lexington Avenue in his electric car at 12 miles an hour, at a time when the speed limit was 8 mph; it was the first recorded speeding arrest in U.S. history.


wayne sheldon
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Re: How far we have gone!

Post by wayne sheldon » Tue May 21, 2019 4:39 am

Wow! How time flies. I remember reading about this famous "first" several times over the recent past half century. A hundred twenty years now?! criminy.
Thanks for the remember.

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RustyFords
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Re: How far we have gone!

Post by RustyFords » Tue May 21, 2019 7:02 am

I wonder how the police officer was able to discern between 8 and 12 mph.
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Allen Banks
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Re: How far we have gone!

Post by Allen Banks » Tue May 21, 2019 7:13 am

RustyFords wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 7:02 am
I wonder how the police officer was able to discern between 8 and 12 mph.
I was thinking the same thing. How do the officers even know what 5 mph looks like without being familiar with some type of instrument to measure it.

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RustyFords
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Re: How far we have gone!

Post by RustyFords » Tue May 21, 2019 7:58 am

I work in the oil refinery labs nearly every day and they typically have a speed limit of 10mph.

Not too long ago I was entering a refinery and one of the security guards stopped me, and very aggressively told me that he had clocked me at 11mph with his radar gun and that I had better slow down or he'd get my entry privileges revoked.

Not wanting to get Barney Fife any more excited that he already was, I just nodded and agreed to do so.

However, I was a military policeman in the 1980's and I remember that we were told that, even properly calibrated, our radar guns weren't accurate to within 1mph. I don't think Deputy Fife at the refinery would've fully appreciated my line of logic, so I kept it to myself.

Still...it makes me wonder how the 1899 Manhattan cop knew that the speeder was going exactly 12mph.
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Re: How far we have gone!

Post by Rich Eagle » Tue May 21, 2019 9:20 am

We have come a long way.
As for safety, several years ago the Safety People put up a 5 MPH sign at a dangerous spot where folks crossed the exit lane from the parking lot at work. The sign was blown over by a strong wind and injured a guy.
So much for that.
Rich
When did I do that?

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Re: How far we have gone!

Post by Barth_Tool_Co » Tue May 21, 2019 9:25 am

RustyFords wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 7:02 am
I wonder how the police officer was able to discern between 8 and 12 mph.
Must have had one of those "tell-tale" speedometers that shows the fastest he went to catch the guy... "Do you know how fast you were going? I had to do 14mph to catch you sir" :D
... and my number is Beechwood 4-5789
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Re: How far we have gone!

Post by Rich Bingham » Tue May 21, 2019 10:25 am

"Reckless driving" was an infraction in crowded city traffic years before the automobile. Then as now, horsemen are well aware of their rate of travel, and how much ground can be covered in a given length of time. Setting an 8mph limit for travel would represent the upper limit for horses at a fast walk or a collected slow trot, easily estimated compared to pedestrians walking briskly at no more than 4mph. When the motorist out-stripped the horse-drawn traffic by half again, it wouldn't have been too difficult for the officer to determine his speed was excessive.
"Get a horse !"

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Re: How far we have gone!

Post by RustyFords » Tue May 21, 2019 2:27 pm

Barth_Tool_Co wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 9:25 am
RustyFords wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 7:02 am
I wonder how the police officer was able to discern between 8 and 12 mph.
Must have had one of those "tell-tale" speedometers that shows the fastest he went to catch the guy... "Do you know how fast you were going? I had to do 14mph to catch you sir" :D
Sounds reasonable.

He might've also been able to use a stopwatch to time the driver between two known points and had a little chart worked up for how specific times related to specific speeds.
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Re: How far we have gone!

Post by Barth_Tool_Co » Tue May 21, 2019 4:13 pm

RustyFords wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 2:27 pm
Barth_Tool_Co wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 9:25 am
RustyFords wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 7:02 am
I wonder how the police officer was able to discern between 8 and 12 mph.
Must have had one of those "tell-tale" speedometers that shows the fastest he went to catch the guy... "Do you know how fast you were going? I had to do 14mph to catch you sir" :D
Sounds reasonable.

He might've also been able to use a stopwatch to time the driver between two known points and had a little chart worked up for how specific times related to specific speeds.
Sounds like he may have invented the first speed trap!
... and my number is Beechwood 4-5789
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Re: How far we have gone!

Post by Loftfield » Wed May 22, 2019 7:32 am

How many times have you been approached by John Law who only wanted a better look at your Model T? The 1899 policeman followed the electric vehicle on his bicycle, which had a speedometer, noted the speeds involved, and then pulled over the electric simply so he could get a first-hand look at an amazing contraption, immediately wishing NYPD would sell the bicycles and replace them with motor vehicles. Which they did, but with today's traffic congestion in the Big Apple they are going back to more manoeuvrable bicycles, which will soon be replaced by electric cars. Sort of circular, isn't it!?!?!

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