Bea Boomer didn’t get her driver’s license until she was 19 years old, the same year she got her first car (a 1972 Plymouth Barracuda, a very cool ride).
Her main mode of transportation BC (before car) was by foot, or, for longer distances, her 10-speed bicycle. It was a Schwinn, lime green, with skinny tires, and for some weird reason, it was a guy’s bike. Girls just rode guys’ bikes. Why? I don’t know.
Anyway, Bea loved that bike and rode it everywhere.
She was dangerous on that thing. It’s really a wonder she survived to ever drive a car, considering all the bike accidents she had.
The worst one was when she was riding along Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods.
Now, cars drove Mack at speeds of between 35 and 40 mph. The street was divided by a median, with two lanes going north, and two going south. (or was it east and west? Whatever . . . ) People parallel-parked their cars on Mack, so they could shop at the cute little preppie stores that lined the avenue.
So picture this: Bea was riding along the avenue, headed toward 7 mile road, at which time she planned to make a right turn and head on home. (Home was a good 2 miles away from that point). She was cruising along at a good pace when SUDDENLY, out of the blue, a lady who had just parked her car opened her car door and WHAM! Bea ran right into that car door and fell with a crash, right into the middle of the street! (I am not making this up).
Luckily for Bea B., she didn’t get hit by a car driving along Mack. Unluckily for Bea B., she did suffer from some body bruising and a big goose egg on her knee. Not to mention, her 10-speed was toast.
The lady, while freaked out that someone had rode right into her car door, was still sympathetic to Bea’s plight, and most likely offered to drive her home. Bea, in her most dignified manner, declined. (Yea, right. Dignified).
Instead, Bea limped her way home, dragging along her now pitiful-looking bicycle. It. was. a. long. walk.
Oh, by the way, wearing helmets while riding bikes was not cool in those days – luckily for Bea, she didn’t hit her head.
Then there was the time she turned a corner on a Detroit street and rode right smack into another bicyclist. (Still, no head trauma).
Finally, there was the time she was riding on Kelly Road, in Detroit, noticed a cute guy driving by in a car, then looked back just in time to hit the back of a car parked on the street, busting out its taillight.
Right now, Bea is shaking her head in disbelief that she actually survived the seventies.
Here’s some advice she actually could have used back then, from the Bicycle Safe website, pleasantly titled “How not to get hit by cars.” There’s definitely some excellent advice here for serious, and not so serious, bicyclists.
Safe Kids USA provides a bicycling and skating safety fact sheet, and to keep your kids and grandkids safe while riding bikes, you may want to check out this article from the International Bicycle Fund (IBF) website, titled Teach your child well; bicycle safety issues.
IBF also has some other educational materials about bike safety, which can be found here.
Finally, the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute can give you guidelines for buying a helmet, how to fit a helmet, and what to look for in a helmet.
Bea still loves riding her 10-speed. Nowadays, however, she takes bicycle safety a lot more seriously!