Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

25 March 2013

Bicycles Are Beautiful. Bill Cosby Says So.

If you see a picture of people riding one of these and smiling, don't believe it.  They're probably gritting their teeth.

"One of these" refers to the "boneshaker".  Who made that trenchant observation about navigating one of those wood wheeled wonders?

Why, it was none other than everybody's favorite dad--in the 1980's, anyway.  I'm talking, of course, about Bill Cosby.

He uttered those immortal lines in "Bicycles Are Beautiful", a safety program he made during the 1970's "bike boom".  It's charming, even quaint, for a number of reasons.  One, of course, is seeing a younger Cosby.  But it's also interesting to see bikes, cars and the California landscape of that time.  Also, only one cyclist is wearing a helmet. Ironically, that cyclist got "doored" in the program.  And his helmet looked more like something a motocross or dirt-bike racer might wear. Given that the only alternative to that kind of helmet was the "leather hairnet" (which offered about as much protection against head injuries as the rhythm method offers against unplanned pregnancy), it's understandable that no one else was wearing helmets.

However, to his credit, Cosby dispelled some widely- (and wrongly-) held notions, such as the one that cyclists should ride against traffic.  Also, in watching the program, Cosby was not only admonishing cyclists to be vigilant and obey rules; he was also--as he has so often--promoting respect and civility.  I don't know whether or not he was an active cyclist, but the title of the program seems to reflect his attitude about bicycles and cyclists.

Still, I can't get over the fact that he pronounces "bicycle" as "buy-sigh-kle".


  1. Definitely a retro feel to this. It's charming, in a way. And yes, I can't fathom the odd pronunciation of bicycle.

  2. Ailish--I agree that the video has its charm and a retro feel. It made me just a little nostalgic.