walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Toddler Fun: Scaring Drivers

T. likes to ride his balance bike (Kettler version). In Brookline, there's a long driveway sloped towards the house, just perfect for this. In Acton, the driveway is short and flat, so he wants to go up and down the sidewalk. He stays within some clearly defined limits, so we're basically okay with that. However, it scares the bejesus out of some drivers who swerve or brake to a near (occasionally complete) stop waiting for us to remove him.

From the _public_ sidewalk. Which is where adults and children walk and ride bikes quite legally all the time. No, we _aren't_ going to remove him and _yes_ we are watching him.

R. says the other day a cop stopped and had a little chat with him. The officer was convinced T. was going to go out into the street. R. asked if he had already, shocked, since he, of course does not do this. On those occasions he goes right to the edge and throws something in the street (very annoying!), he is immediately removed to the house until he's ready to behave. And we've calmed down. And removed the object from the street (usually, but not always, a sippy cup or shoe. No, we don't know why either.). The officer said no, watched for a while, agreed that T. did not go into the street and then left.

Today, a woman with what looked like a tweener son in the SUV with her stopped and told us it was very dangerous for him to be riding his bike _on the sidewalk_ in _daylight_ with multiple adults (in this case, 4) watching him because Acton has had several incidents over the years she has lived here in which cars going too fast down (this?) road drove off the road and into houses. Really? In broad daylight? I thanked her for telling us, let her leave, left T. to play and told the adults around me that was an argument for not living in a house and there was no way I was going to live like that. And a few hours later, I decided to research cars hitting houses.

Step 1: Google. Cape Cod (and I knew this, actually) is really notorious for this, because the roads are curvy, the houses right next to the road, the tourists drink too much and are unfamiliar with the roads and the speed limits are maybe not as conservative as they could be. No one dies, as near as I can tell, either in the house or the car. In the South, sometimes people _in_ the house die, and sometimes the driver makes it _all the way through the house_. Possibly, drivers in the south get drunker, drive faster or something. R. says that in the South, the houses aren't built for snow load, hence, they are flimsier and take more damage from a car. Otherwise, in general, when cars hit houses, the driver and/or passengers may get hurt (and in very rare cases die), but that's about the extent of it. Oh, and yes, almost all of this kind of accident occurs after dark.

Step 2: Wicked Local. Turns out a car _has_ driven into a tree on our street within the last few years. During daylight! Before 9 a.m. (ETA: Specifically, March 9, 7:37 a.m. is when the officer responded.) We don't let T. play in the sidewalk on weekdays before 9 a.m. because there is traffic both directions. If someone swerves out of fear, they could hit someone in the opposite lane and we don't want to contribute to that kind of tragedy. If there's consistent traffic in both lanes, we all go into the driveway and usually into the house. Otherwise, incidents along Prospect street tend to involve strange odors, deer, teenagers misbehaving and similar. If a car hit a house on Prospect, it happened before 2006 -- or the police logs didn't include it. *shrug*

Otherwise, I'm going to continue to subscribe to the theory that public sidewalks are legitimate places for people to ride bikes (since I keep seeing other people on them in this town), including three-year-old people, provided they are properly supervised.

ETA: Having read the kinds of things that generate police log entries about our street and neighboring streets, I now harbor a suspicion that the cops were actually _called_ by someone (a driver or neighbor) and this was them checking out a report of a toddler endangering traffic or something of the sort. My personal favorite was the person on Tuttle who called the police because a couple of men parked on the street (this would be the middle of the day on a weekend) and walked into the woods. Yeah, _that_ sounds like criminal activity! Turns out they were conservation workers. Less fun was the time someone whacked a dozen mailboxes in the middle of the night on Lothrop.

ETAYA: Mailbox smashing is alive and well in this town. Bummer.
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