Some Parents Treat Their Children Like They’re A Major Inconvenience
So, there we were, myself and Salvatore Cataldo, owner of the soon-to-be world-famous Cataldo’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria (www.cataldos54.com), at 564 Vanderbilt Avenue, standing outside of his restaurant this morning, Sunday, August 21, 2011 at approximately 11:20 am.
The sun shone brightly (the biblical rain I am listening to outside my window wasn’t falling this morning), and as Sal and I spoke, I saw what can only be described as the complete disregard for an infants well-being by what passes for parents today.
Heading north on Vanderbilt Avenue were two couples, and both fathers were responsible for transporting their babies on their bicycles. The second father was doing everything right. The child wore a protective helmet of the proper fit and size. The child was also secured in a protective bicycle seat. Even better, both Dad and Mom were wearing bicycle helmets. Great.
It was, however, Dad and Mom number 1 who made me want to run out into the street and snatch their child from their stupid grasp.
Dad number 1, you see, was carrying what looked like an infant in one of those cloth baby carriers. You know the kind I’m talking about. They’re made of cloth and designed to support the infant’s head while allowing their little arms and legs to move. Something you wouldn’t put a child older than one year of age in. They provide absolutely no protection in an accident. Worse yet, the little infant lacked any form of head protection.
Breaking The Law, Breaking The Law
Article 34, section 1238 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law is quite specific about the minimum age of passenger on bicycles. It states;
“Section 1238. Passengers on bicycles under one year of age prohibited; passengers and operators under fourteen years of age to wear protective headgear. 1. No person operating a bicycle shall allow a person who is under one year of age to ride as a passenger on a bicycle nor shall such person be carried in a pack fastened to the operator. A first violation of the provisions of this subdivision shall result in no fine. A second violation shall result in a civil fine not to exceed fifty dollars.
2. No person operating a bicycle shall allow a person one or more years of age and less than five years of age to ride as a passenger on a bicycle unless: (a) such passenger is wearing a helmet meeting standards established by the commissioner. For the purposes of this subdivision wearing a helmet means having a helmet of good fit fastened securely upon the head with the helmet straps; and
(b) such passenger is placed in a separate seat attached to the bicycle and such seat shall have adequate provision for retaining the passenger in place and for protecting the passenger from the moving parts of the bicycle.”
“So What?” You Say?
Let’s imagine the worst. Both child-carrying Dads crash or fall because of some obstruction on the roadway say, a stone, a stick, a slippery metal road covering because of ongoing sewer rehabilitation. Even worse, they collide with a Distracted Pedestrian who’s watching a movie, texting or talking while walking. Now Dad number 2 and his child may suffer some nicks and cuts, but should avoid suffering permanent damage to their brain cells.
Dad number 1 and his child would be a different story. The baby would have a higher chance of suffering permanent brain damage, not to mention the loss of use of one or more of its limbs. Or, the infant would die.
And the sad part? These two should-have-never-been-able-to-conceive excuses for parents would demand their health insurance company give the best care for their infant. As the child grew, they would demand the public school system provide the best possible education for their child. They would probably also demand their state and local legislators change existing estate planning laws re: Special Needs Children just so their child would benefit from greater access to lifelong services and funding.
Here’s What I Say-Deny, Deny, Deny.
Now, to his credit, Sal was trying to calm me down. Then I gave him the reality of increased health care costs because these two “parents” didn’t love their child enough. Add to that the resources that might go to this child due to his parents foolishness, which could lead to higher taxes for us. And let’s not downplay the effect a liability suit could have on both the cost and availability of certain insurance coverages
And worse, the danger those parents placed their infant child in.
So here’s what I say: Deny.
Deny them the right to receive any medical benefits for their child.
Deny them the right to receive anything but the most basic education for their child, unless they pay for it from their own pockets.
Deny them the right to sue the city and/or utility or private firm for their failure to properly cover road hazards.
Deny them the right to sue the Distracted Pedestrian, or the driver of the car which strikes them by accident (Come on, if they’re this dense, you know they’re running red lights on their bikes).
I do demand the law be changed. The civil fine for the first violation should be no less than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00). For a second violation of any part of the law, twenty-five hundred dollars ($2,500.00), and the impounding of their bicycles until they prove the child is properly protected and of age to be a bicycle passenger. A third violation? Removal of the child from the parents. Why? They are clearing demonstrating they love to bike more than they love their child.
Sal, once he helped me get my blood pressure down to a reasonable level, put it all into perspective. “My friend,” he said, “I can almost guarantee you nothing will ever happen to that kid. The kid whose parents do all the right things, that’s the one who will suffer. That one, nothing will ever happen to it. And that’s the way it is.”
Let’s pray he’s right.