If the Minute Man Bike Trail is any indication, there are some fertile-ass people in the Arlington area. Why do I share these sweeping, borderline-offensive sentiments? Because on the first nice weekend of the spring (ie this coming weekend), the Bike Trail looks like tryouts for a children's circus. On such a day, every child in Middlesex county descends onto this 8-foot wide, 10 mile long strip of pavement, and it is hell on earth.
Some may say I'm exaggerating. They have obviously never ridden down the Bike Trail on a Saturday afternoon. If they had, I probably would have heard their "AMEN" from here. I don't particularly mind children, but trying to navigate around children on the bike trail is like playing 'hot potato' with Napalm. I don't have any children (to my knowledge), and I'm sure they are difficult to control, but this is why God invented the 'child-leash'. I understand this isn't practical on a bike, so if you MUST allow your spawn to roam freely on their 10-speed, make sure that they understand simple physics. By simple physics I mean inelastic collisions and the concept of 'proper braking distance'. Translated for the layman, "Make sure they know that if they get in my way I will not stop and I will crush them."
There are 3 types of bike-riding children on the bike trail, they are as follows in order of danger:
This is the best-case scenario when it comes to children on bicycles. The child is strapped in and unable to move. Tom Brady is a smart, courteous man (though he should be wearing a helmet), and he and his son can come on the bike trail any day. Of course, if you've ever seen the 'Daddy and Baby' skit from Jackass, you might think twice if you value your child's life.
This kid is cute, but he is a MENACE. He just graduated from training wheels and thinks he is hot shit. This kid realizes that having a bike means he can leave his parents/his sister/the cops in the dust, and he'll be damned if he touches the brakes. He pedals like Lance Armstrong on speed and has no interest in where he's going as long as it is as fast as possible. This inevitably means that every 3 seconds is punctuated with him realizing that he is about to die and jerking the handlebars the opposite direction. Reckless, but predictable.
At first glance, the Pigeon appears to be the slower, docile cousin of the Sidewinder. That is until you are 10 feet behind them and they stop and look back at their parents for no reason whatsoever and you have to ride into a bush to spare their life. Sometimes they get off the bike entirely and leave it laying there. Other times they will attempt to walk their bike across the bike path, think better of it, and simply stand and wait. What I'm trying to express here is that they could not be any more unpredictable if they tried. I liken it to trying to catch a pigeon. You've picked your line, you have a bead on them and at the last second they turn the tables on you completely and you look like a fool.
The moral of the story here is never, ever, ever take your child on the bike trail. It looks serene, but then there are people like me who have no interest in leisure and use it as a speedway, and I REALLY don't want your child's blood on my hands (or on my new bike). I am convinced that if I am going to die on my bicycle, it will happen while valiantly trying to avoid some snot-nosed kid on the bike trail who got distracted by a butterfly rather than any combination of errant car door or drunk driver on Mass Ave. Please remember valiant for my epitaph.