It's that time of year again. Summer vacation is in full effect and beach towns along the seaboards are inundated with seasonal visitors, many of whom enjoy relaxing strolls, family rides, and exercise routines down the boardwalk. As someone who partakes in each of the previously mentioned activities, I make sure to follow a few guidelines and work hard to teach my children the proper safety rules and manners needed:
1) Stay to the right, pass on the left
2) Look before crossing
3) Let others know when you're passing by SHOUTING "On your left!" to ensure they hear you
4) Maintain safe following distance
5) Look where you're going, not where you've been. (Eyes forward)
6) Use proper turning signaling when on a bicycle
That being said, each summer there are mishaps and accidents, although thankfully, none of my children have been hurt, just shaken up.
Today was one of those times. Kennedy and I went for a lengthy ride to the end of Absecon Island. We rode the Ventnor boardwalk until the end and then rode in the bike lanes through Margate until we reached the end of Longport. We stopped at Lucy the Elephant for water, a snack, and to see her new pedicure. I was constantly giving her safety directions and she rocked the 10 mile ride!
When we reached the boardwalk on the way back, Kennedy asked if we could stop by the library playground, about 1/2 mile down. As we approached the library I signaled our direction, checked to make sure it was safe to cross, and told Kennedy to turn left down the ramp. As she made her turn, Kennedy hesitated, hit her brakes, and stopped. I stopped short and hopped down and exclaimed, "You can't stop in the middle, Kennedy. You have to keep moving," but it was too late.
A young woman on a bike, raced up from behind without so much as a "Look out!" and ran into Kennedy's front wheel. Neither were hurt but both were shaken up. The woman immediately SCREAMED at Kennedy that she needs to stay to the right, only asking if she was ok after Kennedy, who is all of 5, broke into tears from fright.
The woman took off while I moved Kennedy off to the side to calm her down, ensure that she was ok, and to explain what had happened so she can learn from this experience:
I told her that it was ok to be scared, but thankfully she was not hurt. I let her know that her hesitation in crossing was dangerous and that once a decision is made to go, she must follow through. I told her that it's important to follow my directions so that we stay safe and keep others safe as well. And I let her know that accidents happen and it was a good learning experience.
Still upset, she chose not to play at the playground, so we rode back to the condo. While riding back, the other woman approached us from the other direction. As she neared, she was shaking her head in anger and spewed some unpleasantries towards us.
I don't know that I'll ever see her again, but I have a few things to tell her, and she is not the only boardwalk goer who would benefit from this common sense knowledge:
Look, I get it. It was an upsetting incident in which nobody got hurt. I take full responsibility for my daughter's mistake. She's 5 and still learning, which is why I stay behind her, give her constant directions, remind her about safety rules, and do my best to maintain safety for her and others.
You, however, could use a refresher.
First of all, slow the hell down! The boardwalk is not a training facility nor racetrack. It is full of children, elders, families, and friends who are just trying to enjoy the day and the fresh air. If you want to rush down boards, then 10:30am during peak season is not the time to do that. Might I suggest 5-7am, or better yet, keep it to the streets.
Secondly, manners matter. I work my ass off to teach my children that they must warn others of their intentions. You plowed into my child without so much as a warning. No. I know you have a voice because you used it so eloquently when berating my child. In the future, please use it when passing, before the accident occurs…or invest in a handlebar bell or horn.
Finally, take a deep breath. Maybe try some yoga. The beach is lovely for both.
Namaste… And have a lovely summer. See you on the boardwalk.