Stupidity on Two Wheels

So, it sucks to park
the car on Hennepin Avenue in the winter – scaling the piles of snow hardened
into ice, trying not to fall against (or under) the filthy auto, hoping that
busses and SUVs will not take the car door off (or at least slow down if they do) when you get get the frozen lock
unlocked … it especially sucks getting
into/out of a car parked on Hennepin when you’re toting a 10-month-old, however
good-natured, and all of his attendant baggage. It sucks to do this at least
twice daily, which you do when you don’t have any other place to put the car.

But that’s not the
source of my outrage for the purposes of this here post. The outrage was sparked
the other day, once the baby and I were safely settled in the car (frozen, poorly designed car
seats in frozen cars … there’s a topic for another post) and driving this car
on Hennepin toward Calhoun Square. Shortly we came upon a woman on a bicycle.

That’s not the
source of my outrage, either. I’m totally pro-bicycle. I especially have to hand
it to people who ride their bikes in winter – we should all be so virtuous. But
I do have to mention that people who bike on icy thoroughfares like Hennepin –
sans helmets – are, in a word, nuts. Or stupid. Hennepin is already narrow, and
it’s made narrower still with those aforementioned frozen snow piles on either
side. And if the conditions are icy for cars, might they be even more so for
bicycles?

But I’ll hold back
on the outrage there, even. As a pro-bicyclist, I believe that bicyclists own
the roads, too. They can ride wherever they want, and if they want to take
their lives into their own hands by not wearing a helmet and by riding on busy,
icy streets, that’s their business.

So
where is the outrage already? OK: The outrage comes in because there
was also a child riding on the bike, behind the woman (who was, let’s
presume, the mother of the child).

A bit more outrage
comes because this mother had apparently decided to make things "safer" for the child by putting a helmet on her – but
she wasn’t wearing one herself. So your kid can become a motherless quadriplegic
but hey, at least she might possibly retain some or even all of her mental
faculties should a collision occur on icy, busy,
narrowed-by-frozen-piles-of-snow Hennepin.

This
idea of helmets-for-kids-but-not-their-parents is akin to another source of outrage: How
politicians fall all over themselves to be pro-health insurance for
children — but not their parents. So little Susie can have her annual checkup
and/or cancer treatment, but Susie’s insurance-less mom? She might die because
she ignores some health problem or
she might go into financial ruin dealing with said health problem, because she doesn’t have health insurance — leaving Susie
physically healthy (by some standards) but motherless and/or living in abject poverty.

But I digress,
having delivered most but not all of the outrage. There are a couple more bits.

Bit #1: Watching as this helmet-less mom-with-child runs a red light on her bike on
the aforementioned icy,
busy, narrowed-by-frozen-piles-of-snow Hennepin.

Bit #2: Spotting the same mother and child, 45 minutes later, riding the other way on Hennepin —
and this time, they’ve taken on another pint-sized passenger. Somebody get me a
Rolaids.