Last Monday while riding my bike with my husband, a medium-sized dog came out of nowhere and began to chase me. After circling my bike several times, it stopped directly in front of me, blocking the front wheel with its body. When I swerved to get out of the dog’s path, I hit the curb, fell, and landed on a hard, dry, burned-out lawn.
The owner of the dog and his daughter were behind the animal, trying to call it back to them, to no avail. When the owner saw me lying on the ground with a bloody arm and leg, he yelled, “He’s only a puppy!” then got in his car and drove off without so much as asking if I was okay or if he could help. His ex-wife came out of the house, apologized profusely, and offered to help. She explained that her ex-husband had been visiting and had let the dog get loose.
Seven X-rays revealed that I have no broken bones, but I’m badly bruised, and every step I take is excruciatingly painful. Besides the fact that it’s going to take weeks to recover, what concerns me is the lesson the father taught his daughter by his conduct: When someone gets hurt because of you, don’t stop to help. Just make an excuse, then get away from the scene as fast as you can.
Santa Barbara is becoming increasingly unsafe for older people, and there are many of us in this town. Some seniors are no longer able to ride a bike, so they get exercise by walking. I’ve watched as seniors walking with a cane or walker were forced to the edge of the sidewalk or onto the grass by young, able-bodied bikers who were riding on the sidewalk.
On many occasions my husband and I have been forced to move off the sidewalk because bikers were using it. Sometimes they politely asked us to make room, but not always. On one occasion we had to jump aside because a grown man and two pre-teen boys on bikes were charging down the sidewalk at full speed as the man angrily yelled, “Get out of the way!” Another time a very annoyed father, accompanied by his wife and three children, shouted, “Could you move? We need some room!”
I once asked a biker who forced me off the sidewalk why she was riding there, and she said she felt safer there and wanted to keep her children safe as well.
I also want everyone to be safe, especially children, but if the only way to be safe is to endanger elderly pedestrians or make them feel unsafe, I’d urge them to find another way. I’d also ask parents to consider what they’re teaching their children by this sort of behavior.