Debretts, the authority on etiquette and manners, published a book about how to drive politely.
We don’t know what it says about shouting at cyclists, because we can’t afford it. However, it inspired us to look back through the e2e.bike archives to 1895.
This is probably what we would have said about cycling etiquette then. It shows just how far society has declined in the last century and a bit.
• Should a Hackney-carriage or omnibus driver use the road inconsiderately, hold your temper. You may think he is ‘a d— fool’, but to say so, even sotto voce, is most uncouth.
• If out sketching watercolours, you may be approached a policeman enquiring after your activities. Be co-operative; he is only doing his job. By ensuring that you are not an anarchist, foreigner or other criminal, he is protecting the safety of the Empire.
• Correct clothing should be worn in case of an accident. A green Devonshire jacket, cap with stiff peak, boots of good quality, and soft necktie are recommended. A magistrate will take a dim view of a cyclist who is ‘scruffily dressed’.
• Do not over-indulge in alcohol when riding. Six or seven pints of stout or porter, and no more than one bottle of good brandy or port wine, is a perfectly adequate amount.
• Do not smoke cigarettes while riding. It is most improper. Tobacco should be enjoyed at a rest stop, when cigars are recommended.
• Married women should not cycle. Single ladies may do so, but must ride side saddle. Skirts, not ‘Bloomers’ or ‘rational dress’, must be worn.
• Do not shout at, or behave impatiently with, other road users, unless you are reliably informed that they are of a lower class.
• When cycling abroad, treat its inhabitants with politeness and civility, however disagreeable their customs and manners may appear. Remember, it is through no fault of their own that they are inferior.