This is so dangerous, what is this dad thinking???

About three or four mornings a week, I see this guy riding a bicycle on Ridgewood Rd. with his kid on the front handlebars, kid looks to be around 8-9 years old, guess he is taking the kid to school. This is a very busy street, especially around 8 A.M. when he is doing this. Neither are wearing helmets, can't believe how stupid some people are! Rant over.


emmie said:

About three or four mornings a week, I see this guy riding a bicycle on Ridgewood Rd. with his kid on the front handlebars, kid looks to be around 8-9 years old, guess he is taking the kid to school. This is a very busy street, especially around 8 A.M. when he is doing this. Neither are wearing helmets, can't believe how stupid some people are! Rant over.

I commented about this in Greece one day to a hotel owner. It is common to see families of three with the child in the middle on a motor bike.   He countered with the fact that they cannot buy guns in candystores and gun crime was very low.   I don't remember which language we were using but his point though exaggerated was  well taken..


It's against the law here, no? Kids under 16 must wear helmets when riding a bike, right?


In South Orange, at least, adults do as well. Not sure about Maplewood.


It is the law in Maplewood too, for kids under 16!


I believe that the state law says that adults must also wear a helmet when a child is on the bike with them.


no worse than the 40 something year old dudes riding mid traffic skateboards sans helmet, the folks running with traffic, fully earbudded or the helmetless motorcyclists.  


I see this regularly in JC on my way to work when getting off 78E at Christopher Columbus. Father with 7-8 yr old daughter on handle bars crossing and riding down Christopher Columbus which is probably much busier than any street in SOMA. Neither wearing a helmet. I feel bad because that is probably the only way he can get his kid to school aside from walking and I don't know how far they may be, but it is very dangerous. 


Used to ride my bike around Prospect Park in Brooklyn.  Once saw a horrified, wailing father with his child who had fallen off the bike they were riding together and hit his head.  No helmets.  Very dumb and sad.


emmie said:

About three or four mornings a week, I see this guy riding a bicycle on Ridgewood Rd. with his kid on the front handlebars, kid looks to be around 8-9 years old, guess he is taking the kid to school. This is a very busy street, especially around 8 A.M. when he is doing this. Neither are wearing helmets, can't believe how stupid some people are! Rant over.

He might be one of those guys who is forever wailing about how overprotected kids are today (Everybody gets a trophy!).

And then this happens:

nan said:

  Once saw a horrified, wailing father with his child who had fallen off the bike they were riding together and hit his head.  No helmets. 

........and still, he probably won't learn a thing.


Our family spent a week in Amsterdam.  Everyone rode a bike and no one wore a helmet.  They claim it's safer because you are more aware when you are riding.  We saw many bikes with two people on them and many, many different ways of carrying children, including just holding a baby in one arm and steering with the other.  


mjh said:
emmie said:

About three or four mornings a week, I see this guy riding a bicycle on Ridgewood Rd. with his kid on the front handlebars, kid looks to be around 8-9 years old, guess he is taking the kid to school. This is a very busy street, especially around 8 A.M. when he is doing this. Neither are wearing helmets, can't believe how stupid some people are! Rant over.

He might be one of those guys who is forever wailing about how overprotected kids are today (Everybody gets a trophy!).

And then this happens:
nan said:

  Once saw a horrified, wailing father with his child who had fallen off the bike they were riding together and hit his head.  No helmets. 

........and still, he probably won't learn a thing.

I think one of the dumbest things that gets posted all the time is the lament from the adult who grew up in the 70s -- we used to ride in cars with no seat belts!  and never wore helmets riding a bike!  and climbed on jungle gyms over asphalt!

yes, and we got broken bones and concussions, and some people even died.  all of which is now avoidable.  eschewing reasonable safety precautions for one's kids isn't "free range parenting."  It's stupid.


joanauer said:

Our family spent a week in Amsterdam.  Everyone rode a bike and no one wore a helmet.  They claim it's safer because you are more aware when you are riding.  We saw many bikes with two people on them and many, many different ways of carrying children, including just holding a baby in one arm and steering with the other.  

I've seen that too. Toddlers without helmets. Its cringy considering the soft heads of toddlers. But its normal there. No one criticizes or comments on that behavior.

Maybe the guy without the helmet came from Europe.

Someone told me in Holland bike stores helmets are kept for foreign visitors, like Americans.


we just got back from Costa Rica where everyone seems to ride like this. We took bikes out one day and it was totally nerve wracking. I watched my youngest fall into a ditch on the side of the road (kind of like a gutter I guess) when a big truck got too close to her. After that we decided biking wouldn't be our preferred mode of transport.

A few days later we were waiting for our guide who was a bit late. A father and young girl riding as above were hit by a truck. She said from the driver's view point it was impossible to see them. I don't know what the end result was but our guide said it didn't look hopeful. 

Granted the roads there are narrow and scary considering the number of cyclists AND trucks. 


The main roads of Amsterdam have proper bike lanes that are fully separate from car traffic. Even side roads have big wide bike lanes that would take real driving "talent" to violate. I'd still wear a helmet but it's different from Ridgewood (or, God forbid, Christopher Columbus).


My view is somewhere in the middle, and it is fairly nuanced. It's good to take advantage of safety features and precautions such as helmets, because the cost is so low and the benefit is clear. But riding a bike is not as dangerous as it looks. Seriously. The incidences of serious injuries and death are lower than from using cars, as hard as that is to believe. And please think for a second. There are two kinds of danger: the kind you expose yourself to and the kind you cause. Driving motor vehicles causes danger, so those who drive them ought not to scold people for exposing themselves to danger that they (the motor vehicle drivers) create. It's like aiming a gun in random directions and getting angry at the fools who put themselves in front of the barrel of the gun.

When you are driving a motor vehicle and see someone on a bike or on foot, pass slowly with plenty of distance. If the bicycle is in front of you in your lane, so down to match the bike's speed and wait until it is safe to pass, just as you would do with a slow-moving motor vehicle such as a street sweeper or mail delivery truck.


Letting your kid in a car is more dangerous than taking him on a bike. I know that sounds impossible, but some impossible sounding things are true. I'm not saying don't let your kid in a car. I'm saying when you do so, consider it carefully. Just because you do it often doesn't make it safe. It makes it seem safe, but the more you do it, the less safe it is.


Why do posters always interject comments about what they've seen in Europe or wherever as though this somehow ok's the same behavior here. Maybe this is the only way the parent can get the child to school or maybe he's just stupid. If someone can afford a bike they can also afford at least a helmet for the child. What's being described is dangerous. Period.


The guy does have a car, I have seen him drive by my house.  

Edited to add...I'm thinking maybe he drops his kid at school, and then rides his bike to the train station, maybe doesn't want to mess with the parking situation there. None the less, still dangerous.


Tom

I suspect if you take some massive US statistics, maybe you are right.  I saw data that said that cycling was safer than driving per hour.  I also assume that statistic also includes highway driving and other high risk driving.  In this thread, we are discussing a father and child in Maplewood on Ridgewood Road.  You can not convince me that if they were in a car, with seatbelts traveling at 35 mph, that they would be less safe. 

Also, I found this in the Times.


http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3328526.ece


Riding a bike with an unhelmeted passenger sitting on the handlebars is pretty far to the unsafe end of bike riding methods, so I would not assume that to be safer than riding in a car, even if bike riding is safer overall.


Saw a dad and young son doing this in NYC a while back and thought to myself "trouble."  Sure enough ten minuted later I see them both walking back bloodied, kid crying.   Don't know the macro stats on cars vs. bikes but putting a young kid on the handle bars or on the main frame bar is just stupid.   By the way, speaking of the 70s, kids used to do that with other kids.  Our dads did not ride us around on bikes.  


OK, come to think of it, you're right. It's dangerous and dumb. As many of you know, I'm a bike activist, and I followed my normal reflex which is to point out that cycling is a lot less dangerous than people think. But this is dumb. There are safe ways to ride and dangerous ways, just as there are with other things.


I was emotionally scarred for life when visiting relatives and seeing a kid in their neighborhood whose head was shaved on one side because of brain surgery because of riding on the handle bars of another kid's bike and falling and hitting her head. More than the shaved head, her jagged scar seared itself into my memory like the lightning bolt on Harry Potter's forehead. Top it off, for the rest of my childhood, my mother reminded us incessantly about that poor child's damaged brain as a warning to us about the danger of riding two-on-a-bike or doing anything else as careless. 

I'm curious as to what this dad is thinking. I know in our family, my husband did a few things that caused me to flip out when discovered. As in 'you left our toddler in the car in NYC and ran into a store?!' What were you thinking? Are you an idiot or insane? So yeah. 


The crux of the argument about helmets is that even "minor" knocks to the head can have serious repercussions or death. These can be avoided, or mitigated, by wearing a helmet. 

Ever since seeing a young woman's life slip away from hitting her head while roller-blading, I will wear a helmet, EVEN if I'm riding riding in Europe. She was knocked over by a cyclist who banged into her [not saying cycling is bad] and the roller-blader went down hard, hitting her head. She died from her head injuries that day. Absolutely tragic and avoidable.


As bike riding weather is here again, and especially after reading this thread, does anyone have a recommendation for a place nearby for a family of four to get some new helmets?


REI has been a good source for helmets for the whole family.  Helpful staff, good selection.


REI! Perfect- love that place. Thanks!


I'd second REI and get them to make all the adjustments. A couple of years ago they fit my daughter with a helmet and 2 days later she ended up in the bottom of the heap of a multi-bike pile-up in a kids triathlon. She had a broken nose and multiple cuts and bruises, but the helmet DID NOT MOVE and completely protected her head!


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