This 10-minute film was made by the Sullivan Company, which according to the Prelinger Archives was a family-owned film production company from Southern California. I've heard that the film is like a time capsule of Burbank Calif. in the '50s. If that's true, I deeply hope that refers only to the sights and scenes, and not the people. I'd like to think that actual people back then weren't this dreadfully stiff in real life. But also, one would think that being as close as Burbank is to Hollywood, they could have found people who were even just marginally better actors.
The film opens with this scene of three young boys driving a Studebaker (which appears for all the world to have NO windshield!):
|"Now, what do you suppose these boys are doing driving this car?" says the narrator. "They aren't old enough to drive." Uh-oh. It seems like the setup for one of those films on juvenile delinquency.|
But then - jokes on you! They're only pretending to drive while the car is safely parked in the driveway. Next thing we know, here comes Dad, who needs to get to work:
|"And where do you boys think you're going?"|
"Oh, hi Dad - we were just practicing our driving."
|"If we learn about all the regulations by driving our bikes, we'll be ready to drive a car when we're old enough."|
Yessir - then you'll never have to ride that bike again. That's what it's all about. It's the American Dream.
|Dad practically oozes with condescending smugness.|
|He's like Ward Cleaver's @$$hole brother.|
|No "taking the lane" here -- the film practically tells kids to ride in the "door zone" and be prepared to stop -- a lot.|
|Always slow down before crossing intersections, obey signs, give pedestrians the right-of-way. Yadda yadda yadda. Pretty typical bike safety film fare.|
|"It's just as important to keep our bikes in good condition as it is to keep up a car."|
|WWDD. What would a driver do? Hmmm. I'm going to say fly through the intersection without looking. But the kid is actually more attentive . . .|
|"Always use your head, and think about safety. . . By starting now and learning to drive your bikes, you'll be able to drive an automobile when you're old enough. And you'll be able to do a good safe job of it. Remember to Drive Your Bike."|
It's almost impossible to imagine, in this day of relentless standardized testing -- when arts, music, and even physical education programs are being slashed or eliminated altogether -- that schools would start devoting time to bicycle safety. Hell -- in a lot of communities nowadays, any parent who would even allow their child to ride a bike to school would probably be brought up on charges of child endangerment.
Films like Drive Your Bike might be dumb -- but focused education on bicycle riding, rules, and rights, is anything but.
Insomniacs can download Drive Your Bike at the Prelinger Archives, or it's also available for viewing through YouTube, or right here: