Dear fellow cyclists (Moms in particular)

Today we made our fourth trailer trip with Violet in tow. I packed her up after lunch and in between naps, and we wheeled over to the local YMCA to sign up for a family membership. Baby girl is only 10 1/2 months, and somewhat small for her roomy, Schwinn two-seater trailer, but we took a tip from Cycling Sister Jane Healy and stuffed a blanket next to her yesterday (for her 3rd, and longest trip thus far) to lean against when she falls asleep. It works, and she’s getting used to her helmet (which fits her great, thanks to Kevin at Boulevard Bikes!)

Today, on our way back, the first day of school was letting out so traffic had increased. I took mostly side-streets, of course… and was just thinking it wasn’t all that bad, we had had a fairly lovely trip considering Violet was ready for her nap and starting to balk, when a middle aged woman in a gold sedan pulled up next to us as we were waiting to cross Kedzie at Belden

“Ohhh, you have your baby in there? That is SOOOO dangerous!” She was frowning and even put both hands over her mouth, feigning as much shock and distaste as possible.

I had been waiting for this, but hadn’t really formulated any responses. Thus I was amazed at my composure when I leaned toward her level, smiling and said, “Well, thanks, but I’m the mother, so I decide.” I was actually only half-way through saying that, when she shot back “I’m a mother TOO! and I would never do that, how can you do that? It’s SOO Dangerous!” to which I could then only say, trying to enunciate and not scream, “CARS KILL MORE CHILDREN THAN ANY DISEASE!”cite but by then she was looking for her place in traffic and pulling away, still shaking her head and tsk-tsking me.

Oh Lord help us. How can people miss the irony in saying such things from INSIDE THE VERY THING THAT CREATES THE DANGER!? It is almost impossible for me to endanger my child by slowly pulling her in a wide, stable trailer with 4-point harness and helmet. It is what could be done TO her, and us, that is dangerous. And next time I will clarify that more kids die riding INSIDE cars than are killed BY them.

To this end, Gin Kilgore — fellow mama cyclist extraordinaire — and I have been throwing around the concept of a blog (or more) called “Mothers Against Driving(.org)” I’m ready to do it. This is the first post, along with the salient facts about child and car danger (which I still need to cull from various sources — if you’ve got any, send em my way!). I’m so looking forward to some brightly/largely lettered T-shirts and ‘bumper’ stickers that will send these naysayers to their schooling online.

Thoughts? Encouragements?

In righteous four-wheeled motherhood,

3 Responses to “Dear fellow cyclists (Moms in particular)”

  1. toddgee Says:

    The unmitigated hypocrisy and selfishness of drivers always blows my mind.

    …Like how people buy larger vehicles so their children will be “safe”. Sure, “safe” at the expense of the safety of everyone else’s children’s.

  2. John Stoner Says:

    Part of this is a problem of language: we use the same words to say ‘you are dangerous to others’ as ‘you are being endangered by others.’ And we think about the concept in a muddy way, exacerbated by the emotional context of fear.

    I think what’s called for is a response that clarifies the distinction. Something like, ‘No, what you’re doing is dangerous–I couldn’t kill anyone with this, and you could kill someone with that without even meaning to. Happens all the time.’

    Boil that down a little more, and it might even work in traffic.

  3. scott Says:

    Ahem, i’m a little late catching up with your awesome blogness, but…
    For real? I thought big city people were supposed to be brusk, terse, even rude, but hardly ever prying or personal… Seriously, wtf is wrong with some people?
    Lisa, awesome of you for keeping your cool and being quick on your feet.

    Oh and on a tangentially related note, this just in:

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