It has been twenty years since a neighbor cautioned me about safety. She told me to warm my 16-year-old son and all his friends to drive slower and more safely because her children were there. I told her that her children would probably be safer if they weren’t playing in the street and that it was the only place my 16-year-old had to drive.

Her response was that she bought a house on a cul-de-sac so her children would be able to play in the street. This woman had a yard, an in-ground pool, and space not in the street. She visited her parents who lived on a very busy road. And she taught her children, while still wearing diapers, that the street was okay for play.

This is wrong.

The street is the only place big, fast, powerful vehicles have on which to move. They are supposed to be in the street. If they drove on the sidewalks or through the yards, you would be calling the cops to arrest a drunk driver. They belong on the roads. They are made for speed.

Some child in Florida recently died after being hit by a car. I have no idea where she was or what happened other than that was the headline. It was on Facebook. Commenters proceeded with exhortations on safe driving. Now, if some asshat ran up on the sidewalk and killed her, I agree. If she was in the street …

Why aren’t people teaching their children that streets are meant for big, fast, powerful vehicles to move along quickly and their little butts are not to play there?

I have five more times to try and cheat death. Not my own, but some idiot father. His small child rides a bike to school – on the sidewalk. The father rides in the street. He has a small cart thing behind his bike. I don’t know if there is a second kid in there, one he doesn’t like as much. It does have reflective tape on the cart.

I meet him as he rides in the street next to his preferred child. It is dark at 7 AM. I have met him on a curve and have no idea how I didn’t hit him. It nearly gives me a heart attack. Riding on the wrong side of the road in the dark on the curvy street built to make sure I cannot go too fast is simply stupid. I wonder how his son will feel when this guy gets smacked like a bug on a windshield.

My headlights always beam straight ahead because of geometry, they don’t bend around curves. I cannot see him or anything else in the dark night. If he had a light on the front of his bike, it would be helpful, but probably not bright enough to ensure his safety. Why he has to be on the street heading in the wrong direction instead of immediately behind the kid on the bike is beyond my understanding.

As I said, the roads here are all curvy in an attempt to make drivers slow down. It doesn’t work as well as one might hope. The parents here live very busy lives and are in a hurry to get their offspring from one event to the next and other tasks of daily living. One of the most obnoxious speeders here was a woman in a huge SUV with a “Baby on Board” sign in her window.

The streets are only just as wide as they have to be by law which states two fire engines need to be able to pass. That’s it. And then people leave their cars parked (sometimes facing the wrong way so they don’t reflect headlights) even on the curves.

Yesterday, two young teenagers who are not yet old enough to drive and so have no idea what the roads are like, were riding their skateboards. They were in the middle of the road, on a curve. They would have been completely unseen until a car rounded a bend and smashed into them. They weren’t very far from the playground with lots of paved area where they could have been safe.

Roads are built for cars. And trucks. And motorized vehicles of all kinds. Since these are built to accommodate adults, they are larger than any child. If you, adult or child, are on the road – you are in their territory. The roads are meant to be used by big, fast, powerful things and when you put yourself into their terrain, you are at risk.

I applaud parents who teach their kids safety. Once I retire, I may sit and wait for the asshat dad and tell him how many times he came close to death at my hands. I would like to know if there is a child in the cart and then ask him why he doesn’t like that kid.

Roads are meant for cars. People should drive safely. Roads are not playgrounds. People should not play there.

Advertisements