Taylor v Goodwin: QBD 1879

The court was asked whether a bicycle was a ‘carriage’ within the meaning of section 78. It was said to have been ‘ridden at a furious pace’. The appellant argued that: ‘A bicycle is not a ‘carriage’ within the meaning of the Act, nor can it be said to be ‘driven’ in the ordinary sense of the term. Bicycles were unknown when the Act was passed. The Act refers to carriages drawn by horses or other animals . . A person is never said to ‘drive’ a bicycle. The fact that a bicycle has wheels does not make it a carriage. A bath-chair or a wheelbarrow would not be a carriage within the Act. It would be far too wide a construction to hold that every apparatus by which a man is carried is a ‘carriage.’ Wheeled skates would be a carriage under such a construction’.
The respondent countered: ‘The person propelling the bicycle ‘drives’ it. He guides the machine and regulates its pace. Such a machine is clearly within the mischief of the Act.’
Held: It was. Mellor J said that if a person: ‘guides as well as propels it [a bicycle] he may be said to drive it as an engine driver is said to drive an engine.’
Mellor J said: ‘The expressions used are as wide as possible. It may be that bicycles were unknown at the time when the Act passed, but the legislature clearly desired to prohibit the use of any sort of carriage in a manner dangerous to the life or limb of any passenger. The question is, whether a bicycle is a carriage within the meaning of the Act. I think the word ‘carriage’ is large enough to include a machine such as a bicycle which carries the person who gets upon it, and I think that such person may be said to ‘drive’ it. He guides as well as propels it, and may be said to drive it as an engine driver is said to drive an engine. The furious driving of a bicycle is clearly within the mischief of the section, and seems to me to be within the meaning of the words, giving them a reasonable construction.’


Mellor, Lush JJ


(1879) 4 QBD 228


Highway Act 1835 78


England and Wales

Cited by:

DeterminativeCorkery v Carpenter KBD 1950
The defendant was accused of being drunk in charge of a carriage. He was in fact riding a cycle. Section 12 made it an offence to be ‘drunk while in charge on any highway . . of any carriage, horse, cattle, or steam engine’.
Held: The Act was . .
CitedCoates v Crown Prosecution Service Admn 29-Jul-2011
The defendant appealed by case stated against his conviction for driving a Segway scooter on a footpath. He denied that it was ‘a mechanically propelled vehicle intended or adapted for use on roads.’
Held: The appeal failed. The district judge . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Road Traffic

Updated: 04 May 2022; Ref: scu.442517

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