Oh, wait -- that was Happy Days.
The communist-fearing McCarthyist reality is probably a bit more complicated. The '50s hid a lot of ugliness under that scrubbed and sparking, lily-white suburban surface.
|This particular copy was distributed by the Stark County|
Sheriff's Dept. in Ohio - but the manuals were available all
over America, "personalized" for various localities.
The dominance of the automobile can be seen clearly in the safety films and educational materials of the day. In the Bike Safety 101 series, I've looked at a lot of safety education films from that era, but today I thought I'd share a classic bit of anti-bicycling propaganda disguised as helpful safety advice: a 1953 Bicycle
- Bicycles are for children.
- Riding a bicycle will get you killed.
- If a kid dies on a bicycle, it's always the kid's own fault
- Drivers are not responsible, nor should they be held responsible, for the deaths they inflict.
- Anyone who has any sense of self-preservation will get a driver's license and a car as soon as possible (and never look back).
|"Plenty of speed -- no thought of danger."|
Then there's the contradiction that a bicycle is a "means of transportation," and riders are responsible for following the rules of the road - yet the message one gets from these manuals is almost like a bicycling version of the Dred Scott decision -- a cyclist has no rights that an auto driver is compelled to respect. If the cyclist's rights conflict with the auto driver's convenience, then the cyclist is out of bounds.
|"Sad but true - another healthy boy meets his death."|
Kids get killed or permanently disabled on almost every single page of the Bicycle
|"Mary will never walk again."|
|"Beware of car doors opening and striking you." But whatever you do, don't stop hugging the right side curb. "Bill is shoved into the middle of the street and run over."|
|"The child is thrown to the pavement -- Skull fracture and death."|
According to the manual, bicyclists were not only a danger to themselves, but a serious danger to others as well -- a belief that persists today.
|"Screeching brakes -- But too late -- Result -- a limp, lifeless body."|
|"So engrossed in the plane she failed to watch the approaching automobile. Result -- She ran headon into the automobile, suffering severe injuries."|
|"Unfortunately Jack is hit and killed instantly."|
Maybe because they had a few extra pages to fill, or perhaps because there wasn't enough death and dismemberment to go around with a bicycle-only manual, the PSL brings out a few other safety standbys to remind kids that they don't have to be on a bike to suffer a gruesome and untimely end.
|Kids are run over while playing in leaf piles, electrocuted while flying kites, trapped in iceboxes, fall through floors, and blow themselves up with "chemicals." Life is good.|
If only we could say things have gotten better. But propaganda like this is still out there, and the only real difference is that the quality of the graphics has gotten a little better. Remember this beauty?
|The City of Phoenix Dept. of Transportation created these glorious "Bicycle Safety" |
Yeah - we're still screwed up.