The new bicycle age
You may not know it, but you are living in a new age of bicycling. Today there are about 22,000,000 cyclists in the U.S., roughly ten times as many as in the gay and bicycling 90s. The popularity of bicycles is immense and their functions are varied. They will take you almost anywhere—to work, to school or to many wonderful places on cycle tours. This year American cyclists, pedaling about 400 power strokes to the mile, will travel more than seven billion miles, the equivalent of 240,000 trips around the earth at the equator.
All kinds of bikes...
When the first American bicycle was built in 1877 at Hartford, Conn., it sold for $313. Today bikes can be bought for anything between $25 and $90, and come in an infinite variety of colors, sizes and styles. For all their variety, bikes can be classified roughly into two types—standard and lightweight.
...for all ages
The standard model, made of welded heavy steel tubing and equipped with balloon tires, has certain advantages for children. It is durable and can take rough pounding that youngsters are apt to give it. It comes equipped with the regulation coaster brake, and, in junior sizes, usually costs less than the lightweight.
The lightweight is a European bike. It was re-introduced to this country after the war and has enjoyed immense popularity, particularly among those who like cycle touring. Three-speed gears and reduction in weight by nearly 50 percent over standard models make the lightweight the easiest bike to ride. A minimum expenditure of energy will take you a maximum distance. Most models are equipped with hand brakes, but for children who can't handle these some coaster-brake lightweights are available.
Get a good fit
Proper fit of a bicycle is very important for children. Never get a bike for your youngster to "grow into." When children are learning to ride, they must have an exact fit so that they can control the cycle easily. Standard bicycles come in four sizes, according to wheel diameter: 16 inches for ages four to six, 20 inches for ages six to eight, 24 inches for ages eight to eleven and 26 inches for all ages over eleven. On the two smaller sizes, outrigger balancing wheels are available.
Learn the rules
Before you take to the road, familiarize yourself with all the bicycle regulations in your locality. Most places have bike ordinances and regular procedures for registering and licensing bikes. The police department is usually in charge of these. Consult them for complete details.
All bike riders would do well to memorize these basic safety rules:
1. Observe all traffic regulations, signals and signs.
2. Ride single file to the right at a safe distance behind vehicles.
3. Display a white light in front, a red light or reflector in the rear at night.
4. Use a signaling device, such as a horn or bell, to warn of your approach.
5. Give pedestrians the right of way and avoid riding on sidewalks.
6. Look out for cars pulling into traffic lanes, and watch for opening doors on parked cars.
7. Never hitch on other vehicles or race or stunt in traffic.
8. Never carry riders. Don't carry parcels that obstruct your view.
9. Keep your bike in perfect running order, especially the brakes.
10. Slow down at intersections and look both ways before crossing.
11. Use proper hand signals for turning and stopping.
12. Ride in a straight line. Don't weave or swerve suddenly in traffic.
...and take it easy
Take it easy if you are a novice rider or taking up cycling again after a layoff. Give your muscles time to limber up and get used to the exercise. You'll go farther with less effort if you pedal evenly with a steady rhythm. For proper pedal action, place the ball of the foot on the pedals and flex your ankles at the top and bottom of the stroke. Keep an even tension on the chain. Don't let your shoulders wobble or it will make the bike unsteady. Look straight ahead, holding your head still and gripping the handle bars naturally. Keep the saddle in a comfortable position to avoid cramping your legs. Most riders adjust the saddle so that the heel rests lightly on the pedal at the bottom of the stroke, with legs fully extended.