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James J. Scerra: Keep motor vehicles off of our bike paths

Motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles should not be allowed on bike paths. I’ve now experienced my second incident on Grand Island.

On a beautiful July afternoon in Buckhorn Island State Park, three motorcycles came out of nowhere under the Grand Island Bridge and almost ran over my 8-year-old son and me. They swerved between us as my wife screamed to warn us. One of the drivers watched me fall into the rocks and his response was to speed away even faster. My son was terrified after the incident. I suffered bruises, cuts and scrapes.

Many of these trails are narrow and have short sight lines. Neither can see the other approaching. If you’re lucky, you may hear them approaching. And from what I’ve witnessed, the motorcycles and ATVs are approaching with speed.

This is especially dangerous for children on bicycles and pets being walked. Many times, these “drivers” are young and inexperienced. It is a disaster waiting to happen, because someone is going to get hurt, or there is going to be a nasty confrontation.

It is up to parents to take responsibility. You know who you are. You know dirt bikes and ATVs are in your garage, and you should know what your children are doing and where they’re going. Teach them to be responsible drivers.

Continuing to allow reckless driving will only lead to future problems – expensive damage repairs, a lawsuit for injuring someone, or your child possibly becoming a statistic and organ donor.

The first incident occurred four years ago. When my son was 4, he was actually run over by a motorcycle on the Havenwood bike path on Grand Island. On a nice May afternoon, we were riding along when two motorcycles and an ATV came flying around a corner. The teens swerved on the narrow path trying to avoid us. One of the drivers braked hard and ran right over my young son on his new little bicycle with training wheels.

Fortunately, my son was wearing a helmet, and was thrown off his bicycle into the soft mud. The motorcycle ran over him and the bicycle, then crashed. My son suffered a few deep cuts and was traumatized. The teen was unhurt.

My main concern was my son, who was screaming, bleeding and scared to death. I assessed his injuries. From what I’d witnessed, I anticipated him to be badly hurt. But we were very lucky that day, and his injuries were minor. The young drivers were cooperative, parked their vehicles and helped carry the damaged bicycle all the way back to our parked vehicle while I carried my crying son.

They gave me their names and phone numbers, and were apologetic. I was very angry, and told them they shouldn’t be on a bike path, and certainly shouldn’t be speeding on a bike path. I decided to give them a break, and not call the police. The only penalty for them was to buy my son a replacement helmet and bicycle. His helmet was cracked and his bicycle front fork and wheel were bent and twisted beyond repair.

When we got home, I gave my son a thorough check and dressed his cuts and scrapes. We were very fortunate he was not seriously injured. But he was extremely traumatized. I had to keep reassuring him that it wouldn’t happen again.

Well, it’s happened again. This time he was lucky, and wasn’t hit. But it was another traumatic experience for a young boy at the hands of careless teenagers. Be a parent – for our safety and your child’s safety.

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