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Bicyclist goes 35 mph down sidewalk while towing a trailer

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POSTED June 6, 2013 1:03 a.m.

Seeing a bicyclist towing a trailer in Manteca isn’t exactly something that’s out of the ordinary.

But there was something different about this bicycle and the person who was riding it as it buzzed past my car on Wednesday afternoon.

And I’m not using buzzed as a metaphor. The high-pitched sound of a lawnmower engine echoed between the buildings along Main Street as this cyclist – or, at this particular instant, rider – fumbled with something mechanically down between his legs.

Then he was gone. Just like that, he literally pulled away from traffic that had slowed to a crawl through the heart of Manteca, not unlike the way a sports car on the Autobahn pulls away from a Volkswagen. It’s easy to exaggerate here, but this machine – whatever it was – quite literally ripped away from everything else on the road.

That sweet smell of lawnmower exhaust was all that was left.

Naturally, this machine required further investigation. I kept my eye on what quickly became evident to me was a kid – not even of high school age.

He resembled a young Kelly Leak (the chain-smoking, beer-swilling ballplayer that Jackie Earle Haley portrayed in Bad News Bears) with an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt that blew in the wind as he thundered down the road. And as I slowed to determine how fast this “thing” was actually traveling, I was stunned that my foot wasn’t on the brake but for a split second.

It was nothing more than a rickety, Schwinn-style moped that was zipping along at 35 miles-an-hour. Thirty five! On the sidewalk! Towing a trailer!

The kid had the Kelly Leak attitude as well, and sneered at me as I slowed to marvel at the scene that was unfolding. I hate the fact that this makes me sound old (or, as my logical self would say, mature) but what would have happened if a kid walked out of one of the driveways along Main Street?

Pedestrians have been killed in San Francisco by bicyclists that weren’t traveling that fast.

What would have happened if a car backed out of a driveway not expecting that a young Evel Knievel would be tearing past on a motorbike? I’m willing to bet my paycheck on the fact that the Buick would have won that war.

I won’t say that the kid didn’t look like a badass speeding his way up the street. All he needed was a pack of Lucky Strikes rolled up in his sleeve and he could have given James Dean or Paul Newman a run for their money in the swagger department.

But I could just as easily be using this space to write about how some kid bought the farm because he felt like violating half-a-dozen municipal laws just because he wanted to impress chicks.

I’m glad that the motorized scooter fad died out – a kid in my apartment complex used to go back-and-forth all-day on the weekends. It got pretty annoying after four-hours on a Sunday when I was trying to watch football like a blue-blooded American male.

I just hope this isn’t the replacement.

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