Friday, August 11, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: August 11

August 11, 1902 – Recent serious accidents have aroused a sentiment in favor of enforcing the right-side-of-the street ordinance in Duluth.

Had two milk men been driving on the right side W. H. Nesbitt, who was operated on today, would not have lost his right leg.

Had a certain young man employed in a downtown mining office been driving on the right side of the road last Friday night, C. S. Prosser would not be in St. Luke’s Hospital with skull fracture and neither would he have lost a $300 horse.

The ordinance has been on the city statute books for more than a year. It was passed at the urgent request of Chief Black, of the fire department, after several of his drivers had reported the most remarkable escapes from collision in running to fires.

Officer Robert Smollet seems to be about the only policeman that is aware of the existence of such an ordinance, and he has been abused frequently by drivers because he makes them keep to the right.

However, as a precaution against possible serious accidents in the future, it has been suggested that for 30 days the police acting under special instructions keep a sharp lookout for persons that drive to the left instead of the right, and without making any arrests, give the drivers understand that the ordinance must be enforced.

This ordinance briefly provides that all rigs shall keep to the right of the road except in passing other rigs going in the same direction, when they must turn out to the left and get over to the right again as quickly as possible after passing.

Teamsters say they have a difficult time in observing this ordinance in the Superior Street retail district, owing to the fact that many grocery wagons, meat wagons, ice wagons and coal wagons stand backed up to the curbs with the horses heading toward the center of the street and taking up all street space between the street car tracks and curb.

Superior Street, Duluth, Minn.1

Another place where complain is made against the workings of the ordinance if enforced, is on Piedmont Avenue, between Eighth Ave. West and Thirteenth Ave. West. Only the south side of the street is in condition for driving with heavy loads, and the space on the south side is entirely too narrow for the traffic.

In this particular district the drivers of wood wagons seems to have a special preference for the wrong side of the road, and many complaints are registered on account of them.

The greatest danger of driving on the wrong side of the road is in making fire department runs. Chief Black says that no person not on the fire apparatus can properly appreciate the difficulty of making a run simply on account of the large number of rigs that are constantly driving on the wrong side of a thoroughfare.

Example of early 1900s fire wagon.2

The Duluth Evening Herald; “Disobey the Law. Accidents Caused by Driving on Wrong Side of Street. Two Recent Serious Ones Directly Caused by That. Suggestion That Police Take Steps to Enforce ordinance.”; Aug. 12, 1902; p. 2.




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