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Friday, November 16, 2018

Codified Ordinance - Johnstown - Motor Vehicles - 1911


Back in 1911 Johnstown city council took the first steps to regulate the use of motor vehicles on city streets. 


In an ordinance approved in January 1911 it decreed that the speed of such vehicles should not exceed one mile in 2 and a half minutes or 24 miles an hour.
Going a step further, the city fathers ruled that in dangerous, congested or built-up districts the top speed should be one mile in five minutes, which figures out to 12 miles an hour. 


Those were not the only restrictions imposed on the early automobile drivers in Johnstown. If signaled to do so by the driver of any horse or other animal, the operator of a motor vehicle was required to stop his machine and if circumstances required - to shut off the motor as well.
This apparently was intended to prevent the chugging engines of the early cars from frightening horses and causing runaways. 


Council also decreed in the 1911 ordinance that all motor vehicles have "good and sufficient brakes" along with a horn, bell or other warning device.

Four years later - in 1915 - council adopted a new ordinance to control traffic on city streets. This time it fixed a general speed limit of 15 miles an hour. Motor vehicle operators no longer were required to stop on signal from the drivers of horses. The responsibility for keeping horses under control was shifted more directly to their drivers. "No horse shall be left unattended unless securely fastened," as per the new ordinance.

As a further precaution against runaways, council decreed that "no one shall cease to hold the reins in his hand while driving, riding or leading a horse."

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