THE NATIONAL BICYCLE TEST
CTV Television Network, 1989
Volume 19 Number 2
For those of us who grew up during a simpler age in smaller cities with less traffic, the sight of funny-shaped helmets, reflector-bedecked wheels and children studying the rules of the road seems ludicrous. In fact, the modem slang term "nerd" jumps to mind. Surely no pre-adolescent would take such stuff seriously. Riding a bike used to be an extension of our physical abilities. We did what we wanted without a thought for danger - weaving, racing, cutting, riding in groups, carrying loads, whatever.
But as we admire the cavorting of the talented but irresponsible cyclists during the introduction to this video, we are suddenly shocked by the vividly simulated contact between unforgiving steel and tender flesh. Hey, this could be my son! The truth is dramatically brought home to the viewer that our streets are now crowded, creating a dangerous environment where both driver and rider must learn to be courteous and practice defensive driving techniques.
The moment for learning created, CTV's Jack McGaw and three police officers take over to check our knowledge of bicycle safety as tested by the Canadian National Bicycle Test. Fifteen true/false choices seems like a simple matter and, indeed, some questions have obvious answers. However, even adults will be surprised by a few. In any case, each situation is described by an officer and clearly illustrated by simulation.
This video is fast moving and skillfully produced. It is aimed at the pre-teen but parents could view it without feeling insulted. It could be seen either as a children's documentary suitable for adults or as an adult public affairs production suitable for children. I would like to think that it would have an impact on teens as well but I fear that they feel too invulnerable and hostile to good advice to benefit from simple instructions such as we have here. Schools will obviously be the target market but youth clubs of all sorts should consider rentals. I would hope that many copies are also sold to local libraries, where concerned parents can borrow it for a family learning experience.
Howard Hurt, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
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