He would be forever known as SPROCKET MAN!
|Sprocket Man was first published by Stanford University, then acquired by the CPSC.|
|A later version of the Sprocket Man |
cover, after a little make-over.
In fact, it was the CPSC's definition of bicycles as "toys for children" that more than anything angered the more outspoken bicycle advocates of the time. There seemed to be no distinction to the regulatory commission between bikes for children and bikes for adults. John Forester, who first published his Effective Cycling in 1974, was one of the harshest critics of the CPSC's bicycle regulations, dismissing many of them as ineffective and misguided -- predominantly created and mandated by people who had no understanding of bicycles, or cycling. Interestingly enough, however, Forester's Effective Cycling is listed in the comic book's bibliography as one of the sources for the Sprocket Man's safety advice.
|KA-BLOOM! Sprocket Man thwarts two bike thieves with a well-aimed freewheel cluster. It's the only real "action" this super hero sees.|
|Some tips on avoiding the common "right hook" scenario, though it's mostly presented as an admonishment to follow the rules of the road, just like the driver of any vehicle.|
|Don't get "doored." Sprocket Man declares (rightly) "Don't waste your time fiddling a horn or bell. Go for your brakes and . . . SCREAM!!! Move left BUT . . . Don't swing into traffic!!"|
|Lock your bike. Use a good quality lock (U-locks like the one shown were still a pretty new item when this came out). Sprocket Man advises locking the front wheel, too.|
Another version of Sprocket Man was re-issued by Raleigh Bicycles - probably as a giveaway to their customers to promote safety. Again, most of the comic's artwork stayed the same - though some of the text was changed to reflect Raleigh's commitment to safe riding. For example, Sprocket Man says "Your Raleigh Dealer has asked me to share some of Sprocket Man's SAFE CYCLING SURVIVAL SKILLS with you." By the way, Raleigh must not have looked closely at some of the pictures, because their issue of the comic includes the "Playboy" image mentioned above.
In the '90s, the CPSC put out a slightly revised version of the comic - but this time, updated (rather awkwardly) to include the religion of helmet use (full PDF file).
|Yet another re-make of Sprocket Man, this time from the '90s, clumsily adds helmets to all the old '70s era drawings.|
And now, the latest news in the saga is that, at long last, Sprocket Man, like all the other super hero franchises, is finally being turned into a movie for the big screen. And much to the dismay of hard-core Sprocket Man fans, Ben Affleck has been tagged to play the bike-riding superhero.
OK - that last part is complete B.S., but the poster is real.
So, he's not the Hulk, or Captain America, or Iron Man. He doesn't fly, and he doesn't seem to have any actual super powers. And when you get right down to it, he's even a little bit of a safety nerd. But for bicyclists, Sprocket Man may just be the only bike-riding super hero we're ever going to see.
(* actual quote from the Sprocket Man comic)