22 November 2014

This Manual Comes With An Invitation To The Undertaker

How many of you had bicycle safety classes--or were given safety manuals--when you were a kid?

I wasn't.  Perhaps it had something to do with being in Catholic school, and being in Brooklyn, until I was thirteen years old.  Then again, in suburban New Jersey--where my family moved--I didn't see such things.  Nor did my two youngest brothers, who were in early grades of elementary school.

Not encountering a bicycle safety class, manual or film seems all the more striking when I realize that my family moved just as the '70's Bike Boom started. It seemed that every kid in our neighborhood got a new ten-speed bike the first year I was there.  Some of those kids' parents also bought bikes for themselves.  (Those bikes may still be gathering dust in the same garages in which they were hung after said parents decided they were too old, out-of-shape or simply unmotivated to ride.)  I bought my first derailleur-equipped bicycle--a Schwinn Continental--a year after we moved.

But it seems that there were attempts to inculcate young people with notions (however misguided some were) about bicycle safety.  It also seems that the style of those attempts--or, at least, of the manual I'm going to show--hadn't changed in about 15 or 20 years.

These illustrations come from a 1969 manual:


  1. I never tried the feet-on-handlebar style of riding, but this manual could have inspired me to try it, had I read this when I was thirteen.

  2. Chris: I never tried it, either. And, like you, had I seen such a manual, I might have taken the illustration as a dare or just though, "Hmm...If adults say it's no good for you, it must be good."

  3. We had bicycle rodeos at my elementary school. Scouting was a leader in cycling instruction, as I noted at http://dfwptp.blogspot.com/2009/11/before-afghanistan-steve-got-run-off.html HOWEVER, I have a question that never got covered in the various bike schools - what sort of signal are you supposed to make when "leaving a curb?"

  4. Steve--I know the Scouts were supposed to be leaders in cycling instruction. But neither troop to which I belonged offered any or knew where to find it. In my second troop (which I joined after my family moved to New Jersey), the Scoutmaster was willing to sign for my merit badge because I dd the requisite rides with the county department of recreation and was reading some books on cycling--and, of course, Bicycling magazine.

    Needless to say, I never got an answer to the "leaving the curb" question either.