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Old 06-29-09, 07:33 AM   #1
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Some people just shouldn't have kids...

Central Park Rant:


doing a few very rainy laps in central park last Saturday evening.

Was descending south along the west side road right after the big hill at the north end. Doing maybe 20-25 mph (closer to 20 as it was wet out).

Because there are blind curves in that section I am always on the lookout for obstacles. I am used to seeing the occasional poor judgment of a parent riding with small children in tow, riding their teeny bikes fresh off of training wheels in a very shaky fashion (if you MUST ride with such small kids in Central Park, and you can't stick to the lower loop where the pace is slower, at least please ride behind your kids or along side them)

This one took the cake , though.

I come around a bend and see a very small boy, maybe 6 yrs old at the most, on a Razor scooter, with no helmet, weaving all over the entire road - that's a runner's lane, a bike lane and two very wide motor vehicle lanes, folks. I am of the firm belief that cyclists in the park should acknowledge that they are not Lance and the park is not a velodrome - you do need to slow down or maybe even stop occasionally in the interest of fairness to all users of the place, but this was ridiculous. The only way I could have been truly safe with this kid was to dismount and take a nap on the lawn until he went home.

Oh, and in case you;re wondering where Jr. got this brilliant idea that the entire road was his? Dad was doing the exact same thing on a scooter about a football field or so ahead. Occasionally he'd give a quick look over his shoulder. Nice job.

After passing his child very carefully I went alongside him and said (gently but firmly) that his kid was going to get run over doing that...His curt reply?

"Yeah? Try It!"




That poor kid......
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Old 06-29-09, 08:59 AM   #2
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Did you stick a frame pump in dad's spokes?
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Old 06-29-09, 09:04 AM   #3
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I kinda wanted to stick my fist in his face
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Old 06-29-09, 11:32 AM   #4
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It's interesting how some people respond when they are embarrassed.

There's a bike path out here on Long Island that had a very narrow temporary bridge for several summers. Signs at each end of this bridge instructed cyclists to dismount and walk their bikes across, but most people (including me) would just continue to ride, rather than having to deal with people yelling at you for moving too slowly. Pretty much every night, I encountered young children riding with their parents, shaking like crazy as they tried to keep their little 16" and 20" BMX bikes in the lane without crashing into the rusty chain link fencing that lined the bikeway. Typically, the kids would look me in the eye as I approached them head-on, reflexively believing that would keep them from crashing into me. Whenever I saw that, I would gently instruct them to focus on the road in front of them instead, as staring at an oncoming cyclist is almost a sure-fire way to steer right into him/her.

On two occasions I can remember, I had opportunities to talk to the parents accompanying these kids after the fact and to suggest that their kids would be safer on a narrow bikeway if they looked straight ahead rather than at oncoming cyclists. I am not an offensive person. In fact, I am typically the go-to person when something has to be done diplomatically, so I'm pretty sure I didn't say anything to tick anybody off. However, on both occasions, the parents of these kids responded with such snot and arrogance that I could only attribute to pure embarrassment. I'm not sorry I approached them, but I'll probably never do it again.

I'm sure these people are not horrible parents. After all, they have the good sense to take their kids bicycling. I think it's just that parents naturally get very defensive when their parenthood is challenged in any way. The reckless dad on the scooter probably has some maturity issues, but at least he's in the park with his kid on a Saturday, rather than ignoring him. After his testosterone level stabilized, he probably had a talk with the kid about safe scootering - and he was probably sorry, to some degree - that he mouthed off to you the way he did. In the end, you might have saved the kid from a bad or even fatal injury in the future. Who knows? Don't let the anger at the dad ruin your day or your attitude toward kids.
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Old 06-29-09, 11:42 AM   #5
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Dude, it's Central Park. It will abound with obstacles, from other cyclists to runners to kids to dogs (which can be leash-free from 9am to 9pm).

I've also found that people generally don't like strangers telling them how to manage their kids. I'm sure that if you stopped and someone told you that you were riding your bike too fast or not looking out enough, you'd likely rip them a new one as well.

If you need to hammer, head out to Palisades Park or 9W....
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Old 06-29-09, 12:00 PM   #6
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Dude, it's Central Park. It will abound with obstacles, from other cyclists to runners to kids to dogs (which can be leash-free from 9am to 9pm).

I've also found that people generally don't like strangers telling them how to manage their kids. I'm sure that if you stopped and someone told you that you were riding your bike too fast or not looking out enough, you'd likely rip them a new one as well.

If you need to hammer, head out to Palisades Park or 9W....
You need to re-read my post. I wasn't hammering, I was coasting. I wasn't telling him what to do, just pointing out his child was in danger. I was within my rights to do both.

By any stretch of anyone's imagination his actions showed poor judgment and endangered his child. I don't stop and admonish every cyclist/jogger/runner I see doing something stupid - that would be a full time job. But this was a clear cut case of "hey son - watch daddy and be a big jerk, too." I said my piece in the interest of sparing the kid injury. That was as far as it went.

I hope the guy was embarrassed, or whatever else it would take for him to rethink his priorities. I think it is entirely possible he has never been on that park road before. Mistakes are common the first time someone uses any road or course. One would hope that more care would be exercised if a child that young was brought along.

If the man has been on that road before, seen lycra clad people hammering by (yes, many do) and still thinks it's okay to let his child swerve all over creation a quarter mile behind him, then - hey, that kid has some big problems well beyond Central Park ahead of him.
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Old 06-29-09, 12:03 PM   #7
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On two occasions I can remember, I had opportunities to talk to the parents accompanying these kids after the fact and to suggest that their kids would be safer on a narrow bikeway if they looked straight ahead rather than at oncoming cyclists. I am not an offensive person. In fact, I am typically the go-to person when something has to be done diplomatically, so I'm pretty sure I didn't say anything to tick anybody off. However, on both occasions, the parents of these kids responded with such snot and arrogance that I could only attribute to pure embarrassment. I'm not sorry I approached them, but I'll probably never do it again.

I'm sure these people are not horrible parents. After all, they have the good sense to take their kids bicycling. I think it's just that parents naturally get very defensive when their parenthood is challenged in any way. The reckless dad on the scooter probably has some maturity issues, but at least he's in the park with his kid on a Saturday, rather than ignoring him. After his testosterone level stabilized, he probably had a talk with the kid about safe scootering - and he was probably sorry, to some degree - that he mouthed off to you the way he did. In the end, you might have saved the kid from a bad or even fatal injury in the future. Who knows? Don't let the anger at the dad ruin your day or your attitude toward kids.
+1

Reminds me of the joke about a tourist in Manhattan (IK it is called "the city") who walks up to a NYC cop and says, "Can you tell me where the Empire State Bldg is or should I just go f$*# myself?" :-)
Love that joke.......really captures the NYC culture for me (lived there 9 years).

I agree that I get defensive when someone points out a better way for me to be a parent.

Some thoughts:
1. Isn't the park closed to all traffic on the wknds?
2. Not sure why the northern portion of the park should be closed to kids?
3. Green and free space is at such a premium in NYC. I can understand why people have such short fuses. One of the many reasons I left.
4. You were clearly already angry by the time you interacted with the dad. Perhaps a more considered comment: "am I wrong or does it seem dangerous for your kid to be weaving in and out of a bunch of lanes?"
5. Even if he outwardly was hostile, the comment may have registered with him so the next time he might approach things differently. In the heat of the moment we may all behave not as we would like but upon reflection might heed the advice. I see this with my adolescent daughters all the time. I sometimes get defensive when my wife offers some advice and later I often follow her recommendations.
6. No helmet is what concerns me........
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Old 06-29-09, 12:06 PM   #8
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I'm sure these people are not horrible parents. After all, they have the good sense to take their kids bicycling. I think it's just that parents naturally get very defensive when their parenthood is challenged in any way. The reckless dad on the scooter probably has some maturity issues, but at least he's in the park with his kid on a Saturday, rather than ignoring him. After his testosterone level stabilized, he probably had a talk with the kid about safe scootering - and he was probably sorry, to some degree - that he mouthed off to you the way he did. In the end, you might have saved the kid from a bad or even fatal injury in the future. Who knows? Don't let the anger at the dad ruin your day or your attitude toward kids.
I'm not so sure, but you make good points. And I hope that is exactly what happened, the end result being my intention - to let dad know this was a bad place to do that kind of swerving. So thank you for saying all that!

Just to be clear - I'm not saying keep kids out of central park so I can race in there without worry. I am saying there are lanes and lines to be held and respected or there would be crashes every five seconds. A child that young simply does not have the judgment or motor control to handle every situation on their own. A helmet would have been a good idea, and teaching him to stay within or near a lane. Beyond his own safety you'd be teaching him to respect & share public space.

And fwiw I wasn't interested in stopping and lecturing dad - I said what I said as I went by, out of concern, as economically as possible. I hope he did reflect and realize the intention was for his child's benefit. That's the whole point.
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Old 06-29-09, 12:14 PM   #9
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Some thoughts:
1. Isn't the park closed to all traffic on the wknds?
2. Not sure why the northern portion of the park should be closed to kids?
3. Green and free space is at such a premium in NYC. I can understand why people have such short fuses. One of the many reasons I left.
4. You were clearly already angry by the time you interacted with the dad. Perhaps a more considered comment: "am I wrong or does it seem dangerous for your kid to be weaving in and out of a bunch of lanes?"
5. Even if he outwardly was hostile, the comment may have registered with him so the next time he might approach things differently. In the heat of the moment we may all behave not as we would like but upon reflection might heed the advice. I see this with my adolescent daughters all the time. I sometimes get defensive when my wife offers some advice and later I often follow her recommendations.
6. No helmet is what concerns me........
I never said the northern loop should be closed to kids. If you live uptown I could see why you'd want to just ride up there. But if you bring your kids in you should recognize the dangers, conditions, etc.

Again, I do hope you fellows are right and that later on he focused on the important thing here - teaching his kid safe enjoyment of the park.

I really wasn't that angry when I first went by and made my comment...I guess it was just his response that shocked me...I expected a "F-you, slow down, you bikers are selfish, too fast, etc." - which many are but I am stressing, I was coasting carefully in the wet already, and I slowed to about 5-7 mph and un-clipped as I very carefully went by the kid - not that he would have seen that, being in his own world way up the street.

So I expected an anti-bike reply. I did not expect him to use his son as a political/testosterone football. My reaction was to laugh - I just threw up my hands and said, 'ok - it's your kid!' as i rode on.

If you think every cyclist in CP would be as careful as I was in passing the boy, think again. That may be on the bikers, but I still say it's bad judgment exposing your kid to that. Again, I hope he thought on it afterward.
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Old 06-29-09, 12:29 PM   #10
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Speaking of the Great Hill, don't you just love it when the 'hammer heads' doing 25+ mph as they descend that s-turn, come up behind one of the neighborhood kids on a mountain bike and call out, "just hold your line kid!"...???

Yeah there are real safety issues in the northern end of the park. There very few pathways for pedestrians, kids on scooters, skaters, the disabled guys in wheelchairs, or anyone who might want to go clockwise around the park so they wind up in the recreational lanes.

It's not unusual for crowds to spill out onto the roadway, at the bottom of the s-turn, when people are waiting to get in, or leaving the skating rink/pool. And to make matters worse, even when the park is closed to traffic there are still police, parks, and errant cars using the roadway. So what's worse, traffic when you expect it or traffic when you don't?
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Old 06-29-09, 12:36 PM   #11
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In general I think bicyclists should yield to pedestrians. If you want to race safely join a club.
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Old 06-29-09, 01:14 PM   #12
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Regardless of your speed, the reality is that Central Park is going to be full of unpredictable obstacles. Chewing out some random dude will not change it; clearly you were not even able to change the father's mind about it. Inconveniences, unpredictability and even potentially unsafe behavior is just part of the package. It's like going to McDonald's and complaining that you can't get filet mignon.

And of course, getting aggravated about something that will not change is just a recipe for more aggravation.

Separately, while I agree that it's good for a parent to keep an eye on their kids, it's also a little silly to think that a kid has to "hold the line" or, well, do anything other than... be a kid. Many parents coddle their children to an absurd extent as it is. What is the dad supposed to do, put his son on a leash? Put him in a suit of armor? Or maybe develop an airbag play suit...?

If the kid inconvenienced you, I agree that sucks, but that is life in the Big City. In the long run, you are better off just riding past the kid and going about your day without giving it a second thought.
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Old 06-29-09, 01:16 PM   #13
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I believe pgoat stated he wasn't racing and that he steered wide of the kid to prevent a collision. As for yielding to peds, maybe peds should watch where they're going. I've seen peds walk into each other in the park.
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Old 06-29-09, 01:23 PM   #14
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If the kid inconvenienced you, I agree that sucks, but that is life in the Big City. In the long run, you are better off just riding past the kid and going about your day without giving it a second thought.
I respect your right to state your opinion, but fwiw, you are clearly not reading my posts.
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Old 06-29-09, 01:27 PM   #15
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it's also a little silly to think that a kid has to "hold the line" or, well, do anything other than... be a kid.
I agree. The child is not at fault here. That does not mean anything goes, however.

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Many parents coddle their children to an absurd extent as it is. What is the dad supposed to do, put his son on a leash? Put him in a suit of armor? Or maybe develop an airbag play suit...?
Um, no. He's supposed to socialize/teach/mentor/guide/raise his kid. For his own safety and everyone else's. By your logic the kid should learn the hard way how to cross the street on the way to the park - if he dies, oh well....I know that is not what you meant but that's what it amounts to.
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Old 06-29-09, 02:56 PM   #16
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pgoat:

I'd drop it now. People are starting to chime in with their own agendas, having completely missed the point of your initial post. You can't win at this point, buddy, so shut down the computer and get out there and ride!
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Old 06-29-09, 06:31 PM   #17
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To the original poster: I do think you were annoyed by the time you reached the father, but, if what you said was just something to the effect, "Your kid's going to get hit riding that way," I don't feel you were out of line. That said, I understand the father's position, too, being defensive in favor of his son, who — by your own account — he didn't feel was doing anything wrong. Of course, all this is your telling of events (I doubt the child's parent was a "football field or so" ahead of him), and so the recollection is bound to be a bit skewed. My feeling is, the ringing of a bell could have helped the situation greatly (I don't know whether or not you rang one): Kids probably aren't much less responsive to the sound than are adults.
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Old 06-29-09, 07:35 PM   #18
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Oh, I'm definitely reading your posts. I'm reading the bits where you suggest this man shouldn't have a child (thread title); that you think this father is so negligent that he's threatening his child's safety, based on observing about 30 seconds of behavior; that you felt the urge to assault the father (though I assume you wouldn't actually do so). All because a 6 year old kid was wobbling around Central Park on a push scooter. What am I missing here?

As for my "agenda," I don't think that a) parents should put a force field around their kids, b) this incident should've been even remotely worth thinking about 30 seconds later, c) you should expect anything else in Central Park, or d) that you've got much standing to tell a completely random guy, who you have never seen before and almost certainly will never see again, how to raise his child.

Mind you, if this happened in the middle of Avenue A, or if the father grabbed his kid by the shoulders and shook him a dozen times, you'd definitely have a point. Since you were in the middle of Central Park, and the father was clearly close enough to his son for you to immediately identify him as such, I don't view your assessment of the situation as justified.
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Old 06-30-09, 05:42 AM   #19
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As a parent, I'm astounded at how people can let their kids run free on that section of the road. If you spend 60 seconds observing, you'll see dozens of bikes, runners and CARS all hours of the day and night coming down that hill. Caution is definitely warranted. For everyone involved.
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Old 06-30-09, 06:15 AM   #20
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Near my house there is a corner on the road around which cars travel pretty quickly. There was a child playing in the road, and a car would not have seen him until it was too late, fortunately he was hitting a stick on the road and I could hear him before I approached. Either way I told him to get out of the road and play on the pavement or something.
His parents were nowhere to be seen...

Sometimes I think it is down to naivety rather than neglect.
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Old 06-30-09, 06:48 AM   #21
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Sometimes I think it is down to naivety rather than neglect.
I think you could be right, But when it comes to safety issues, should we really nit pick over a difference?

When I was married, and my sons were young (about 6 years old for my oldest, so 20 years ago or so) we lived on a fairly busy street, and the person who lived across from us had two children younger than ours. Our sons weren't allowed to play alone in the front yard because of the road, but her children would at least a few times play in front of their house, and would occasionally wander into the street without their mother around... at least according to what my ex-wife told me.

I guess as a good neighbor I should have alerted them to the danger, but I didn't witness it myself.
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Old 06-30-09, 07:52 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
Oh, I'm definitely reading your posts. I'm reading the bits where you suggest this man shouldn't have a child (thread title); that you think this father is so negligent that he's threatening his child's safety, based on observing about 30 seconds of behavior; that you felt the urge to assault the father (though I assume you wouldn't actually do so). All because a 6 year old kid was wobbling around Central Park on a push scooter. What am I missing here?

As for my "agenda," I don't think that a) parents should put a force field around their kids, b) this incident should've been even remotely worth thinking about 30 seconds later, c) you should expect anything else in Central Park, or d) that you've got much standing to tell a completely random guy, who you have never seen before and almost certainly will never see again, how to raise his child.

Mind you, if this happened in the middle of Avenue A, or if the father grabbed his kid by the shoulders and shook him a dozen times, you'd definitely have a point. Since you were in the middle of Central Park, and the father was clearly close enough to his son for you to immediately identify him as such, I don't view your assessment of the situation as justified.
Ok, I am reading your post very carefully and you make some very good points. My apologies, sir.

Again, I think we are all on the same page here - the child's safety is the main issue. I will add I used to work in education so I am probably a bit hyper-sensitive to parental negligence....not to mention a bit sick of being blasted as a cyclist when we all know that peds can be equally hazardous.

Again, my apologies if I was out of line to anyone here. Seeing that poor kid in that situation just got to me. And I really was flabbergasted by his dad's two word reply.
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Old 06-30-09, 07:55 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
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I'd drop it now. People are starting to chime in with their own agendas, having completely missed the point of your initial post. You can't win at this point, buddy, so shut down the computer and get out there and ride!
You're right - thanks for the voice of reason

I am sure we all see stuff like this everyday - especially in congested cities. I saw some moran (cyclist) on the bridge today endanger several people, out of his own selfishness and poor riding judgment.


I am not always moved to post, but again, it was not my own inconvenience or anger at the dad so much as surprise at the rather bizarre reply and general concern for the kid that prompted me in this case.
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Old 06-30-09, 08:01 AM   #24
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It's interesting how some people respond when they are embarrassed.

There's a bike path out here on Long Island that had a very narrow temporary bridge for several summers. Signs at each end of this bridge instructed cyclists to dismount and walk their bikes across, but most people (including me) would just continue to ride, rather than having to deal with people yelling at you for moving too slowly. Pretty much every night, I encountered young children riding with their parents, shaking like crazy as they tried to keep their little 16" and 20" BMX bikes in the lane without crashing into the rusty chain link fencing that lined the bikeway. Typically, the kids would look me in the eye as I approached them head-on, reflexively believing that would keep them from crashing into me. Whenever I saw that, I would gently instruct them to focus on the road in front of them instead, as staring at an oncoming cyclist is almost a sure-fire way to steer right into him/her.

On two occasions I can remember, I had opportunities to talk to the parents accompanying these kids after the fact and to suggest that their kids would be safer on a narrow bikeway if they looked straight ahead rather than at oncoming cyclists. I am not an offensive person. In fact, I am typically the go-to person when something has to be done diplomatically, so I'm pretty sure I didn't say anything to tick anybody off. However, on both occasions, the parents of these kids responded with such snot and arrogance that I could only attribute to pure embarrassment. I'm not sorry I approached them, but I'll probably never do it again.

I'm sure these people are not horrible parents. After all, they have the good sense to take their kids bicycling. I think it's just that parents naturally get very defensive when their parenthood is challenged in any way. The reckless dad on the scooter probably has some maturity issues, but at least he's in the park with his kid on a Saturday, rather than ignoring him. After his testosterone level stabilized, he probably had a talk with the kid about safe scootering - and he was probably sorry, to some degree - that he mouthed off to you the way he did. In the end, you might have saved the kid from a bad or even fatal injury in the future. Who knows? Don't let the anger at the dad ruin your day or your attitude toward kids.
I haven't lived on Long Island for a while now, but are you referencing the path along side the Wantaugh Parkway? This is bringing back memories.
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Old 06-30-09, 11:54 AM   #25
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>>>....are you referencing the path along side the Wantagh Parkway?<<<<<

Yes. The Ellen Farrant Memorial Bikeway, to be exact. One of the bridges was under reconstruction for several years. It's open now, but I haven't yet gotten my ass out there this season!
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