Monday, July 28, 2008

Bicycle Safety

Some people drive me crazy. I've got a lot of pet peeves. A lot. I try not to bother people with too many of them. The ones that I share usually relate to safety and consideration.

Today, I'm focusing on bicycle safety. Specifically, parents and children riding their bicycles together in the city of Chicago.

For those of you who don't live here, in Chicago bicycles are to be ridden on the street, not on the sidewalk. The seemingly unwritten exception is with small children. Understandable. Even before I had kids, I could appreciate this social exception.

Here's where it goes wrong – when crossing streets, specifically, streets with traffic signals. Apparently, today's parents have forgotten basic bicycle safety. Though no bike commuter does so, basic bike safety dictates that you walk your bike across the street, not ride.

Today, I saw a young woman, probably a nanny, riding her bicycle and had two children under age ten with her; the elder was a girl on rollerblades, the younger, a boy on a bicycle. They passed me as I was walking JD down Belmont. As they were passing, a 20-something dummy was riding his bike on the sidewalk coming toward us (not only on the sidewalk, but on the wrong side of the street.) The nanny passed me, then the girl on rollerblades, then the little guy passed just as the oncoming cyclist was about to pass me, almost sending him into a parking meter. Then, at the corner of Racine and Belmont, she asked me where the nearest Whole Foods was. I told her it was on Ashland, two blocks North. She thanked me, then, when the light turned green, started riding. The kids were behind her and skated and rode across the street. I wanted to smack her.

First, if you're riding bikes with kids, ride on the sidewalks of side streets! You can avoid traffic lights and pedestrians alike! Second, aside from the oncoming cyclist being in the wrong place, she should have told the kids to stop and waited until the oncomer passed. Third, what is she doing behind the kids? What if one of them fell down? Or worse? Finally, teach them to walk their bicycles when crossing the street. Bad judgment.

Parents: help your kids learn to be good people. You see and curse people when you're out-and-about doing stupid, inconsiderate things. When you're out, especially with your kids, do the smart and safe thing. Maybe together we'll raise people who won't turn out to be jerks.

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