Cycling around the park on the bike path, chasing Spencer who is speeding ahead to win the race, time shifted in to slow motion.
I noticed a small child, possibly 2 or 3, on the pavement looking at me. He turns his head and looks across the road as if to assess the logistics of speed, velocity and time. How fast is that object moving towards me, what trajectory is it on, can i run across the road…
I start to ring my bell as if he would understand that as a warning sign – a signal to stay put… but he stepped off the pavement and started toddling into the road. Not sure if to turn my breaking wheels to the left or to the right, I howled, and skidded to the right, clipping his heel. The bike stopped, the boy was crying, my heart was thudding.
I looked around in shock as the mother, who had been on the other side of the road, appeared, scooped him up and walked off muttering “it’s ok” leaving me standing in the road…
Another lady cyclist standing to the side said “- it’s alright, dont worry about it. At least you stopped…. she was on the phone…”
Bemused, I cycled off in search of Spencer. I started to think i shouldn’t have just cycled off, so when I found him, I called for him to come back with me. I wanted to check everything was alright.
I found the mother with her boy on the bench. I apologised for having cycled off- I had had to go and find my own child… was everything alright…?
Mother scowled, and buried her face it to the child bundled on her lap “it’s fine”. She was not interested in engaging.
But the little boy looked at me and showed me his hand that had caught his fall… I commented how brave he was, then said I was glad he was alright. But please wait for mummy to cross the road in future…. Another flare of a glare, I felt I had over stepped, and decided to retreat.
With a heightened sense of awareness… every move, every person in the park seemed a potential collision. I thought of the different ways each of us had responded to that fleeting moment of connection. My horror of potentially really hurting a small child, not having managed to counteract or responsd by cycling around the child; the child in shock from the clip, the fall, the howl, and the adult responses; and the mother, feeling the fear of her child being injured, or the self scolding for not paying attention, for being on the other side of the road, for being on the phone? But Spencer was eager not to have our race interrupted by such things and insisted that we complete circuit 2 of our race.
On our second passing of the peace pagoda, I spotted a couple of young children running and playing on the pavement, thankfully the other side of the road from me. But then they both ran out into the road… “Get off the road” bellowed the woman…”you’ve already been run over once today!” I averted my gaze, turning my head away in hopes she wouldn’t notice me and cycled on.
Coming up to the dreaded go-cart hut, i saw a couple of youths racing each other. Note to self… pay attention… I sallied forth, cautiously, and just as i was about to overtake one, he did a hard right wheel turn and jagged out in front of me.. I swerved to the right, as my bellow of “What the hell are you doing?” engulfed, swallowed and spat out his jovial apology.