I have posted this story a few years ago. Maxfield turned 8 last week causing this memory to keep popping up.
When we, my 8 siblings and I, were growing up, before we could ride a bike in the street we had to take a bike test.
I learned to ride a bike, I guess, when I was 5 or 6. It was hand me down Big Wheels before that. But once we mastered the two wheel regular bikes we could only ride in the driveway or on the sidewalk. We were not allowed to cross the street on the bike. We weren’t even allowed to walk the bike across the street. We were only allowed to go around the block, on the sidewalk. We had to wait until our 7th or 8th birthday (I can’t remember) for my father to administer the Bike Test before we could venture out onto the street. Going around the block for a whole year was quite boring.
Dad felt that if we were going to ride in the street that at least we would have to be safe. The bike test was the first step in being able to ride with your friends or even older brothers. It was the test to be somewhat free.
The Bike Test was hard, especially to an 8 year old.
The test started in the driveway. We had to make a right, heading North onto Street X. Make a right, heading East onto street Y. Make a u-turn without hitting the curb and head West, stop at the stop sign, cross Street X and head up the small hill. We then had to make another U-turn and head East again, stop at the stop sign make right onto Street X and then a left into our driveway. If we could complete this course, not too fast or too slow (yes you could get penalized for being too slow) using all of the correct hand signals, stopping where we were supposed to, we would pass the test. We would be free to ride our bikes in the street. We would be free.
Not one of my brothers or my sister ever passed on the first try.
The second stop sign got me. I went right through it. I was coming down the hill; I was making a right hand turn, I looked, no cars were coming, what’s the big deal?
It was a big deal. I had to wait another two weeks before I could take the test again. I had to wait 14 days before I could ride with my friends. It was embarrassing.
There go my brothers and the rest of the kids from the neighborhood riding down to the park. I would have to walk. By the time I got to the stickball game it would already be the second inning. Not that any one cared because I sucked at stickball.
These days there are laws about kids wearing helmets. There are lawsuits when a kid gets hit by car, because he crossed the road without looking. There are lawsuits when kids get hurt by their own bikes. Where are the bike tests?
Maxfield turned 8 last week. I am drawing up my own bike test.