We've been having our October weather this first week in November, and the mild, sunny days have filled the bike path with walkers and cyclists. (Why, by the way, is someone who rides a bicycle called a cyclist while someone who rides a motorcycle called a biker? The other way around would make more sense.)
Anyway, among the bicycles on the bike path are always a few with those cute little tot-hauling carts hitched behind them. Most of the time they carry kids, though I've seen them with smug little dogs inside instead. Once in a while you'll see a child seat mounted on the back of a bike, but those don't seem to be very popular. I can understand why.
When my daughter was about eight or nine months old, I decided to get one of those seats so I could take her along while I got some exercise. Never mind that I didn't get my first bike till I was 26 and my bike-riding skills were approximately the same as those of an uncoordinated seven-year-old just barely out of training wheels. It still seemed like a good idea at the time.
One beautiful Sunday morning we set out on an expedition: my sister, my six-year-old son, and me, with the baby securely strapped into her seat behind me. We rode through quiet residential streets to the bike path, then pedaled easily along it until it was time to head home. My daughter sat in her seat talking happily to herself. We had a great time.
Everything went smoothly until we were back in the residential neighborhood a few blocks away from our house. I was in front, getting a little tired but still pedaling along, when a man started across the street in front of me. Either he didn't see us, or he assumed, correctly, that we had plenty of space to go around him.
My inner uncoordinated seven-year-old froze. I didn't have time to slow down. I was afraid that if I swerved to miss him, I might tip over. It never occurred to me to shout a warning. Taking the only other available choice, I plowed right into him.
Fortunately, he had better reflexes than I did. He grabbed the handlebars in time to both protect himself and keep the bike from going completely over. The only thing that hit the ground was my left leg.
So there we were, disturbing the peace of a quiet Sunday street. My daughter, still safely strapped in her seat, was screaming in fright. I was crying, mostly because I was afraid she was hurt. Blood was streaming down my leg from a scrape on my knee. And the hapless guy I had just run down was saying, "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!"
I bet he was, too. He probably still flinches if a bicycle gets too close.
My sister rescued the baby and calmed her down. The man dug a first-aid kit out of the glove box in his pickup and stuck a bandage on my knee. We walked the rest of the way home.
My daughter never rode in the bicycle seat again. Every time I tried to put her into it, she started screaming. Evidently she didn't want to be a biker babe.