Before Hipsters on Bikes, It Was “Modern Swains” on Roller Skates

Eagle article about Bay Ridge Roller Skaters
Via Eagle Archives

When not killing people with impunity, today’s New York motorists bemoan the hipsters on their bicycles, who, they argue, disobey the laws while creating dangerous conditions on the road. Like most things, this argument about who can safely be on the road is an old one—except, back in the 1930s, it wasn’t bicycles. It was roller skates.

“Young People of Bay Ridge Find Many Local Streets Ideal for Roller Skating,” reads the headline of an October 1933 article in the Brooklyn Eagle. But with popularity comes peril.

Shore Road is proving a particularly popular rendezvous for the skaters who, apparently unaware of the great danger that exists for them, skate in the traffic line. As the majority of the cars on this road travel with only cowl or parking lights, it is impossible in many instances for the drivers to detect the presence of the skaters until they are within a short distance of them.

To motorcar drivers sk[a]ters present a distinct problem and many are considering quizzing the Police Department on the status of a skater. If he is a pedestrian, then he shall travel on the sidewalk, and if he is to be classified as “traffic,” then he shall be compelled to display adequate lights after nightfall.

Read the whole article here.

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