"The quick and the dead” is a biblical saying. “There are two kinds of pedestrians—the quick (i.e., those quick enough to get out of the way) and the dead” is an old joke. James J. Murray, a legislator of New Jersey’s Hudson County, told the pedestrian joke in February 1906.
Wikipedia: The quick and the dead (idiom)
The Quick and the Dead is an English phrase originating in the Christian Bible and popularized by the Apostles’ Creed, one of the earliest statements of faith in the Christian religion and still one of the most widely used in worship.
The use of the word quick in this context is an archaic one. Here, the word specifically means living or alive (a meaning still retained the idiom quickening as the moment in pregnancy when fetal movements are first felt and also in the “quick” of the fingernails).
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
21 February 1906, New York (NY) Herald, “Automobile Legislation in New Jersey,” pg. 11, col. 2:
James J. Murray, of Hudson county, declared reckless automobiling had created two classes of pedestrians, the quick and the dead, the dead being those who are not quick enough to dodge the machines.
21 February 1906, New-York (NY) Daily Tribune, “Auto Bill Opposed,” pg. 11, col. 5:
James J. Murray, of Hudson, repeated his reasons of two weeks ago in favor of the Freylinghuysen bill. He said there were only two kinds of pedestrians in the view of the auotmobilist—the quick and the dead.
30 January 1907, St. Albans (VT) Daily Messenger, pg. 5, col. 4:
It is interesting to note that in Vermont, last year, the auto killed only one-tenth as many people asthe horse, via runaway accidents. This does not mean necessarily that Vermont motorists are wonderfully careful. Rather, we take it, does it indicate that most Green Mountaineers belong to the former of two classes into which pedestrians are now divided—the Quick and the Dead.
1 November 1907, Macon (GA) Daily Telegraph, “State Press Comment,” pg. 4, col. 4:
Dalton Citizen: A bright little fellow, according to a magazine wag, having heard much about the “quick” and the “dead,” asked father what it meant. His father told him that the “quick” were the people that dodged the automobiles while the “dead” were theones that didn’t.
8 April 1909, Norwich (CT) Bulleting, pg. 1, col. 8:
THE QUICK AND THE DEAD.
Just Two Classes of People on Our Streets These Modern Days.
Springfield, Mass., April 7.—George S. Ladd of Sturbridge past member of the state grange, addressing a western Massachusetts grange rally in this city today on the subject of good roads, said relative the dangers of the automobile that “in these modern days there are just two classes of people on our streets, the quick and the dead—and unless you are mighty quick you are pretty sure to be dead.”
Reconciling the Heart and Mind:
Essays on Faith
By Don Broad
Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press
Having lived in New York City for several years, I have always enjoyed the claim, “In New York City there are two kinds of pedestrians: the quick and the dead.” With apologies for that old saw, the meaning of “quick” here is “living.”
Oxford Treasury of Sayings and Quotations
By Susan Ratcliffe
New York, NY: Oxford University Press,
[There are] only two classes of pedestrians in these days ofreckless motor traffic—the quick, and the dead.
Lord Dewar 1864–1930
There are two kinds of pedestrians… the quick and the dead.
-- Lord Thomas Robert Dewar
1:57 AM - 5 Sep 2015