I called 911- tell me I wasn't being ridiculous. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 06:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My DH thinks I was a bit over the top on this one so I was wondering, as a parent- would you have done the same?

I was walking with my girls (one in our Ergo, the other alongside holding my hand) and I saw a man pass us in the bike lane (which is in the actual street but to the right of the traffic lane). We were approaching a busy intersection- three main streets intersect, and there are two gas stations, a grocery store, a bank, and a fast food restaurant that have frequent traffic. I don't like being there but I needed to go there to get to the bus stop.

the Above mentioned man had a rickety homemade wooden bench seat on the back of his bike (it was a 3 wheeler bike that typically has a basket back there). There were surely no seat belts. He had his two daughters(?) on the back of the bike, both about 4 or 5 years old, both with no helmets. He didn't have on either. Just as I thought to myself, "hmm, that's not safe", he merged left into the traffic lane, and cut off a car (car slammed on their brakes). He then went into ONCOMING TRAFFIC, and the oncoming car was about 5secs away from him. He was just weaving in and out all over the place! I called 911 and told the operator that I was very concerned for the girls' safety, and she said she'd send the police. I went to wait for the bus, the bike man and kids went to one of the above mentioned gas stations to put air in their tires. A police SUV came, slowed down as they approached the intersection, and turned the corner in the opposite direction. So nothing happened to anyone (just had to add that in case anyone was wondering).

Was I over the top? Would you have done the same? My DH agrees that it's obviously unsafe, but he told me (and frequently tells me) "You're not the police. You can't be everyone's mommy. You have good intentions but sometimes you just need to let people learn their lesson." I don't frequently call 911. It has been over a year. The last time I called even 311 was for a well being check on one of our neighbors and was over a year ago also.

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#2 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 08:07 AM
 
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In this case, I would have called. "learning a lesson" could have been a dead child.

Just last week I called to non-emergency number to report an elderly man riding a motorized wheelchair in the slow lane of a BUSY 4-lane street facing on-coming traffic. There was a line of cars that had to slam on brakes to switch lanes to avoid hitting him. I was so afraid he was going to either get hit or cause an accident by people trying to avoid him. I think it is our duty as humans to look out for one another.
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#3 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 08:56 AM
 
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I wouldn't have called, but would have maybe called the non-emergency number.
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#4 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 09:29 AM
 
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I wouldn't have called. I'm w/ your DH - its not your job to make sure everyone is being 'safe' all the time, and its just not your job.
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#5 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 09:42 AM
 
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With what you describe, I may have considered calling - I mean, if he was slowly biking down a quiet residential street, I probably would think "gee that's not safe" and leave it at that. But what you describe would strike me as erratic driving - heck, if I saw a car doing that, I might think "drunk driver"...add in the kids, and that's upsetting.

Thinking more - I probably would have called the non-emergency number.

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#6 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 09:57 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Limabean1975 View Post
...if I saw a car doing that, I might think "drunk driver"
Exactly. My dad, a retired cop, says you did the right thing.

This was not you being everyone's mommy. You saw a man operating a vehicle of some sort in an extremely erratic, dangerous manner. It sounds as if he was impaired in some way.

He, his children, other drivers and other pedestrians were at serious risk and you notified the proper authorities who could help.

Good for you!

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#7 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 09:57 AM
 
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No, I wouldn't have called.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#8 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 10:00 AM
 
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I probably wouldn't have called, but i would have felt guilty about it! I think you did the right thing.

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#9 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 10:02 AM
 
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My first thought was also drunk driver. I probably would have called the local police department non-emergency if I had it. If not, I would have called 911 saying I thought he might be drunk. How else do you explain that driving? Yeah, on a bike but still driving if he's in traffic, IMHO.

I've called on a few drivers who appeared drunk over the years. It is not something to mess around with.
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#10 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 10:05 AM
 
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He was driving erratically in a traffic lane. Several traffic lanes, in fact. I would have called. It doesn't really matter what vehicle he was in -- he was driving erratically. The fact that he had two unrestrained, unprotected children with him just adds to the number of people he was endangering. If people were having to swerve to avoid him, even if he'd been by himself, he would have been a danger. If a cop had been sitting right there, he would have been checked out by the cop. That tells me that you had a reason to call 911.
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#11 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 10:43 AM
 
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I would have felt very concerned about the erratic driving -- but, lazy bum that I am, I would've just said something like "Oh my gosh! He's crazy! Those poor kids!" But that would've been the extent of my actions 'cause I'm just too lazy, plus I don't carry a cellphone with me, so by the time I would have returned home, it would've been too late to call anyway.

I would have also felt concerned about the no helmets thing, but I've gotten used to the fact that my dd seems to be the only child in our neighborhood who wears a helmet while riding her bike.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#12 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 10:47 AM
 
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No I would not have called. I may have yelled at him but would not have called 911 I agree with your husband

Jeana Christian momma to 4 sons Logan 18, Connor 15, Nathan 6, and bonus baby Jack 1
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#13 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 10:51 AM
 
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My DH works for 911. Essentially, if you don't meet with cops and make a report nothing can happen unless the cop *sees* the erratic, dangerous behavior. So, I would have called but I would have made a report so that the cops could do something--but that usually means waiting around for the cops to show up. When 911 asks, "Do you want to speak with an officer?" what they are really asking is, "Do you want to make a police report?" Without the police report nothing can happen.

I'm glad that no one was hurt while you watched. Thanks for being an active community member!

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#14 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 10:58 AM
 
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I would have called the non-emergency number first. I think that the safety of children is the responsibility of everybody, especially a situation that can involve serious head injury or death.

Heck, I recently called the non-emergency line, which also took calls regarding animal control, about a stray turtle that was on a busy road (we tried to move him but he turned out to be a very strong, snappy turtle and we did not want to injure him or ourselves)...

Apparently doing it rong and ruining it for everyone, but I don't give a crap anymorebanana.gif

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#15 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 11:09 AM
 
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No way would I have called. As someone who rides her bike with both kids on the back I am aware that many (likely non-bike commuters) people feel like its inherently unsafe. A three wheel bike is meant to cary that load, just like my cargo bike is. Seatbelts are not appropriate. They should probably be wearing helmets and it sounds like he didn't do a good job of crossing the intersection. But so much can get lost in the translation - crossing a busy intersection in a bike is HARD, especially with a heavy load.
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#16 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 11:25 AM
 
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sounds like he was wobbly and weaving b/c he didn't have air in the tires.

yes *should have* taken care of that before loading up the kids.

yes *should have" helmets on everyone.

neither of which is illegal.

seeing as though the cop eyeballed it and moved on, probably the call to 911 was not necessary (i would not go as far as to say ridiculous, though.)

cops in chicago have a lot on their plate, as you know.

speaking just for myself, i feel a lot more peace when i focus only on my own kids and their safety -- so i'm with your husband that you can't change the world.

now, if the kids were running loose in traffic and you couldn't physically catch them yourself, then, yes, a call to 911 could have saved their lives.

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#17 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 11:26 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ElliesMomma View Post
sounds like he was wobbly and weaving b/c he didn't have air in the tires.

yes *should have* taken care of that before loading up the kids.

yes *should have" helmets on everyone.

neither of which is illegal.

seeing as though the cop eyeballed it and moved on, probably the call to 911 was not necessary (i would not go as far as to say ridiculous, though.)

cops in chicago have a lot on their plate, as you know.

speaking just for myself, i feel a lot more peace when i focus only on my own kids and their safety -- so i'm with your husband that you can't change the world.

now, if the kids were running loose in traffic and you couldn't physically catch them yourself, then, yes, a call to 911 could have saved their lives.
Minors without bike helmets is not illegal where you are? It's been illegal since I was a kid everywhere we've lived. Under 18, helmet required, no exceptions.
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#18 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 11:29 AM
 
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OP, I would have done the same.

I'm married to an avid cyclist, and as such, we are very serious about bicycle safety, especially when it comes to kids. What that person was doing was unsafe. It does not sound like the "bench" was an appropriate way to transport children, not wearing helmets is inexcusable, and it doesn't sound like the person was biking safely AT ALL. Not ok when there's kids involved.
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#19 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 11:44 AM
 
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Minors without bike helmets is not illegal where you are? It's been illegal since I was a kid everywhere we've lived. Under 18, helmet required, no exceptions.
That's interesting. As far as I know, no one's ever been arrested for this where we live. The other day some child teased my dd saying, "What kid wears a helmet?" -- and I piped up and said, "A kid who does't want a brain injury!" and I got looked at kinda funny.

I don't know if it's the law, but I just know that, during college and shortly after graduating, I met two different women who'd had their lives majorly disrupted by brain injuries.

Both young women had been riding along, sans helmets, when they suddenly flipped over and landed on their heads, I think in both cases due to hitting a rock. My college friend actually suffered permanent paralysis of one side of her mouth or face due to the injury...

So to me it's just a no-brainer to take the extra few seconds it takes to strap on that helmet, and dd agrees even though it makes her head sweat. But I guess most other parents haven't had my opportunities to meet brain-injured young people. Or maybe they think their own children are too smart to hit a rock the wrong way.

If people question me about why dd has to wear a helmet, I tell them about this horrible risk. So far I've only been questioned by kids, no parents, but I'm always hopeful that some of them might pass on the story or stories to their parents, and ask their parents to keep them safe, too. This doesn't seem to have happened so far. And our police seem pretty busy with other stuff just like the ones in Chicago.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#20 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 11:48 AM
 
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I love your dh's response "you're not the police." Ummm...that is WHY you called the police!

I think you did the right thing.
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#21 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 11:56 AM
 
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I don't know if I would have called, but I don't think there's anything wrong with you having called. You have to do what you can live with, you know? If you would have felt bad about not having called, then for you calling was the right thing to do.

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Originally Posted by WindyCityMom View Post
My DH agrees that it's obviously unsafe, but he told me (and frequently tells me) "You're not the police. You can't be everyone's mommy. You have good intentions but sometimes you just need to let people learn their lesson."
This quote just strikes me as sort of funny, because ... obviously you're not the police, that's why you called them. And "learning his lesson" for this guy may have meant having an officer approach him and have a short discussion about biking safely with children. I dunno, it just kind of cracks me up that your DH's big argument against calling could just as easily be seen as an argument *for* calling.

ETA: Regarding the side convo, helmets for kids under 18 is the law where I live too. The law reads, "This requirement also applies to a person who rides upon a bicycle while in a restraining seat that is attached to the bicycle or in a trailer towed by the bicycle." In a quick Google search, it appeared that Illinois doesn't have a helmet law, but I'm not sure how updated the web page I looked at was.

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#22 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 12:00 PM
 
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Minors without bike helmets is not illegal where you are? It's been illegal since I was a kid everywhere we've lived. Under 18, helmet required, no exceptions.
Where we are, it's 12 and under and only if they're driving the bicycle.

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#23 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 12:20 PM
 
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That's interesting. As far as I know, no one's ever been arrested for this where we live. The other day some child teased my dd saying, "What kid wears a helmet?" -- and I piped up and said, "A kid who does't want a brain injury!" and I got looked at kinda funny.

I don't know if it's the law, but I just know that, during college and shortly after graduating, I met two different women who'd had their lives majorly disrupted by brain injuries.

Both young women had been riding along, sans helmets, when they suddenly flipped over and landed on their heads, I think in both cases due to hitting a rock. My college friend actually suffered permanent paralysis of one side of her mouth or face due to the injury...

So to me it's just a no-brainer to take the extra few seconds it takes to strap on that helmet, and dd agrees even though it makes her head sweat. But I guess most other parents haven't had my opportunities to meet brain-injured young people. Or maybe they think their own children are too smart to hit a rock the wrong way.

If people question me about why dd has to wear a helmet, I tell them about this horrible risk. So far I've only been questioned by kids, no parents, but I'm always hopeful that some of them might pass on the story or stories to their parents, and ask their parents to keep them safe, too. This doesn't seem to have happened so far. And our police seem pretty busy with other stuff just like the ones in Chicago.
I've not been aware of it being an arrest-able offense, but one where the parents get fined. Even if the parent was unaware the child was not wearing a helmet, the law was such that the child HAS TO. They drummed this into our heads when we were in school and doing bike safety week or whatever it was.

My DH's spin has been that anyone who chooses not to wear a helmet has some suicidal tendencies. Kind of like not wearing a seatbelt. It shows just a total lack of concern for one's life and well-being to not be willing to be minorly inconvenienced or uncomfortable for the sake of your life.... I don't get it.
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#24 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 12:27 PM
 
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I would have called 911. Yes, the cop couldn't see the eratic driving, but he DID see the kids in the makeshift bike seat and without helmets, so it's clear that the man was riding the bike with the children in that manner (this was in a public place, not in front of their house.) I don't know what the laws are in IL, but in NY there are laws about bike helmets on kids under 14, and a police officer seeing what you described would likely contact CPS. Even if there are no laws requiring helmets for kids in IL, if the officer felt the situation was unsafe, he could have called CPS anyway.

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#25 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 12:34 PM
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No, I wouldn't have thought to call 911 on that one.

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#26 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 12:37 PM
 
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yes *should have" helmets on everyone.

neither of which is illegal.

It's illegal here for kids 12 and under to not wear helmets, not that that seems to be enforced.

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#27 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 12:37 PM
 
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I can't imagine minding my own business if I saw someone putting their children's lives, not to mention the lives of other drivers, in danger. You did the right thing.

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#28 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 12:38 PM
 
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NC requires all children under 16 to wear a helmet if they are the bike driver.

And, "All child passengers falling at or below 40 pounds/40 inches, must be carried in a separate restraining seat. "

But, the fine is only 10 stupid dollars.

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#29 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 12:45 PM
 
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We are an avid cycling family and frequently take our daughter out in a trailer hooked up to my bike. There are probably plenty of people who think that it is serious child endangerment to pull my child in a bike trailer in traffic, but there are also people who think that all bicycles should ride on the sidewalk (which is illegal in our state because it's so dangerous), so I don't pay too much attention to the people who yell out their car windows about how I'm endangering my child.

When you're biking with a child, you need to be incredibly more careful than when you're biking alone, but some things are more risky than others. Someone riding with children on the bike as you describe is not necessarily putting them in danger. (Seatbelts, for example, aren't necessary if they're on the back of a tricycle, and depending on the setup, could even be more dangerous in that situation.) Putting them on the bike without helmets, in traffic, and cutting across lanes of traffic without signalling traffic to slow down, is putting them in danger, IMO.

It's hard to judge without having been there, because like a PP said, lots of people see all bicycling as inherently dangerous, especially when you're trying to make a legal left-hand turn (which often requires cutting across several lanes of traffic and putting the bike into the very center of the road).

I think that if I saw this I probably would have called, too, even though I normally avoid calling police for pretty much everything. The police in our community don't have a very good track record when it comes to treating people with respect and appropriateness, though -- I've seen too many innocent people get arrested or beat up or verbally abused by our city's finest. I've spent some time locked up in the muni jail myself, too (don't worry, I meant to be there), and it's the filthiest and most dehumanizing place I've ever been. I can't imagine doing anything that might send someone there for any reason. But in this case, yes, I would have called. Someone who endangers children by riding in such a way that they are at risk needs a serious wake-up call, and there are many many wake-up calls that are better than having a child seriously injured or, heaven forbid, killed.

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#30 of 158 Old 08-09-2010, 12:47 PM
 
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Honestly, If I saw a guy with a make shift seat for his kids on a bike with no helmets I would assume he (they) were doing the best they could. To me this situation seems an action of people in poverty not people willfully trying to put their kids in danger. The flat tire could be why he had some erratic biking.

I don't see how ticketing them or having the harassed by police helpful. What if they did stop him. Told him not to put the kids on the bike or threaten to arrest him. Now he has to push the bike and keep two kids in control over a busy street.
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