17 January 2012

My Cyclist Rant

I'm all for finding alternative modes of transportation and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. I think bicycles are pretty awesome. And while I know there are a good number of intelligent, considerate and careful bicyclists out there, I have come across an inordinate number of bozos.

Around these parts there are all manner of jokes about cyclists. And I know that cyclists poke fun at/ ridicule/rail on and on about drivers. It's a two-way street. Yes. I know.

Sometimes, however, I see things that make me scratch my head with one hand and work really hard to refrain from dialing Child Protective Services with the other. Riding on crazy-busy streets with little kids is one such thing. Whether on their own little bikes or in a seat attached to the grown-up bike or in one of those cute little trailer thingies... seriously, people, what in the hell are you thinking? Granted I have seen some such situations where it is clear that this is the family mode of transportation by necessity, and in those situations, I just look upward and say a prayer for them. But when mommy or daddy is out tra-la-la-ing and junior is skittering all over the place without a helmet on...

We are not in the Netherlands! This is not a quaint, picturesque village bike path! This is (sadly) not an environment where motorists are conditioned to be able to dodge your meandering child! This is a main thoroughfare with speed limit of 35 and everyone exceeds that! Do not ride here with your kid!

I am able to deep-breathe my way through these moments usually, but the other morning I saw something that made me cringe...recoil...And then I saw the bigger picture and found it even more disturbing. There was a lightning quick flicker of "hey, that's kind of cool!" until reality set in and the danger was apparent.

It was a dad riding on the bike pictured below. Behind him was his kindergartener, shakily riding a two-wheeler sans helmet (I used the french word for 'without' because they were going to the french school). Dad was also sans helmet. In the big box in front of the bike was a two-year old...thankfully wearing a helmet! The toddler was sitting on the white bench seat. There is no seat belt or harness... just a little 1/2-inch wide leash to hold.

Kind of cool, right?

What do you think about the safety-factor?

I am being totally honest when I own my judgement of this parent and say...

Whoa...dude is...

Not the sharpest tool in the shed.
As smart as a stick.
Not the brightest crayon in the box.
Dumber than a box of hair.
A few sandwiches short of a picnic.
About as sharp as a marble.
A couple of pineapples shy of a luau.

I wish we lived in a more bicycle-friendly area, but we don't. I don't think this guy is from around here. Well, maybe he is. Berkeleyans are famous for self-righteously indignant behavior even when safety is compromised and sanity disregarded. I can say that because I'm from here. I can't stop him from doing stupid stuff...I know that. I just wish he'd at least get his older kid a helmet.


  1. I JUST saw one of these in SF this weekend and did a quadruple take! It looked so unsteady as he was riding & leaning over to talk to his daughter in the front. Yikes!

  2. Lost a stepbrother when I was 13 and he was 14 (1986) to a head injury due to a bike accident. Back then it never occurred to us to wear helmets. I'm glad my kids "get it" and don't really question my requirement that they always have one on when on their bikes. I'm sickened by the fact that some parents still don't "get it". The bike concept is kind of cool, but poorly executed. On the choice of riding it on a street that doesn't protect them is just nothing short of stupid. My son rode across a street as a car quickly crested a hill and nearly hit him yesterday. I thank God the driver stopped. I'm not sure the helmet would have saved him (Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. kid on bike not really a fair fight), but at least he had a fighting chance.

  3. I think these bikes are awesome for running errands. However, I totally agree that helmets are a must! It is insane to ride on the streets without one. Also agree on the little kids riding on the street. There are plenty of places for them to practice and become proficient.

  4. I'm with you. I cringe when I see kids without helmets, but especially on a busy road. What's up with that. Really irresponsible parenting. Even adults riding in the road makes me cringe because cars can't always see them. I usually say a quick prayer and keep driving.

  5. I hate to say it, but I'm a bike elitist. If you are riding a road or mountain bike correctly and safely then cool. If you are riding a beach cruiser AT OR NEAR THE BEACH correctly and safely (and yeah I even get cruising the beach path sans helmet at 5MPH) then cool. Everyone else, step away from the bikes. Especially all you post-ironic hipsters on fixies - that shit is wrong on so many levels.

  6. no helmet = big no no for me
    kids and adults with kids and adults sans kids.

    and no kids of mine would ride in that bike

    little kids riding bikes: in a PARK not in the streets.

    yeah I am not the coolest mom around according to my kids when it comes to bikes...

  7. That seems to sacrifice a little too much safety for me! I would be aggravated as a driver!

  8. Ack!
    Not safe!
    If, as an adult, you want to endanger yourself... well... you're an adult. But kids without helmets??? A toddler in a tip-prone basket? What is this parent thinking? (Or rather... not thinking.)

  9. Yeah, I've seen some pretty "cool" contraptions here in Eugene too. Luckily though Oregon has a helmet law that for the most part I think is fairly adhered too. Scary stuff bikes and kids and roads and such.

  10. On the other hand, if we could get more parents and kids on the streets on bikes (with or without helmets), we could condition the drivers to behave more safely around them.

  11. Oh french school...I am allowed to say that that joke was my favorite part of this entire post?

  12. I call that Darwinism. Kind of like watching National Geographic, you feel bad for the baby zebra that the parents couldn't protect from the lions. Maybe they should wear helmets?

  13. Wowza! That's quite a bike. Who cares about the kids safety... that bike is a fashion nightmare if I've ever seen one! ;^)

  14. Yes, ride with a helmet. My kids know better and always wear a helmet weather they are on a bike, scooter, skateboard, skis, or snowboard.


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