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The day I almost killed a kid…

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Jun 27, 2021

I almost killed a kid last week.

I know what you might be thinking. Some smart aleck kid was acting up, throwing a tantrum, sassing his parents, using bad language, or worse, and so I wanted to slap him.

No, that is not it. I am basically a pretty non-violent person.

No, I mean I literally almost killed a kid.

I was leaving the office to go to lunch and driving out of the back parking lot at the Faribault County Register. I was exiting the lot to go onto Fifth Street.

Luckily, I am an old codger and I wasn’t late for anything, so I was driving pretty slowly out of the lot, looking both ways for oncoming traffic on Fifth.

What I had not seen was a kid about 12 years-old on the sidewalk on one of those electric scooters. And he didn’t see me until the last second.

The sidewalk slopes down from Main Street alongside the Register building, past our parking lot and then past the front of the law office.

The kid was going fast. I mean it was downhill and he was on an electric-powered scooter thing. He looked like he was doing 80, but OK, it was maybe just 30. Or 20.

I hit the brakes even though I wasn’t really going that fast to begin with. He swerved just a little at the last second and missed the front of my vehicle by a fraction of an inch.

If I had been going just a little bit faster, or if he would have come down that hill a second or two earlier, he would have smashed into the front right fender of my Ford Explorer.

He might not have died, but he probably would have been pretty messed up. Instead, he continued down the sidewalk buzzing along on his scooter (which looks like a skateboard with a front handle). I sat in my vehicle and watched him. He did slow down at the next intersection and looked for cars. He had just not expected a car to come out from behind a building and suddenly appear in front of him.

Maybe next time he will keep an eye out for that kind of thing.

It was not the only close call I have seen, or heard about, in the past couple of weeks. I saw a woman on a bike on Seventh Street, crossing an intersection last Wednesday noon. A minivan made a left turn and nearly hit her, except she pulled up short. I am not sure the driver ever saw her because he just continued on his way.

I guess he had other things on his mind.

Another adult on a bike was stopped for a long time at one of the roundabouts, waiting for a break in the traffic so they could get through it. Nobody in a vehicle stopped or even slowed down.

I have written before how it seems some people just want to get through a roundabout as fast as they can.

I have seen lots of folks standing on the sidewalk at a crosswalk waiting for cars to go by before they could cross the street.

Even with the little signs which say stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, many drivers just don’t stop, and people have to wait until all the traffic goes by before stepping out into the street.

My point is, drivers don’t seem to be aware of pedestrians and bikers very much anymore. Heck, people are in such a hurry they barely are aware of other vehicles on the road, much less walkers and bikers, and, well, electric scooters.

Granted, those who walk and bike need to be cautious when they are out in traffic. But kids don’t always look out for cars as much as they should. It is one thing to be walking or biking on a quiet residential street, something totally different on a busy street in a downtown area, or along a highway.

So much of the time it is the driver who should be cautious when driving around the town and be concentrating on driving safely. And, it is much easier to be cautious if you slow down a little.

You know, the traffic past my home on Main Street has been pretty quiet this summer. That is, of course, because the intersection at 10th and Main has been closed due to construction. Of course the constant beep-beep-beep of the construction equipment can drive you a little nuts.

But at least the speeding (and loud) motorcycles and pickup trucks roaring by has been non-existent.

However, this past Thursday night the intersection at 10th and Main got graveled and was opened back up. That was always the plan, to get the intersection open before the Giant Days parade. Granted, it won’t be paved until this fall, but it is open.

It had barely been open for a couple of hours and already several pickups roared down Main Street and didn’t even slow down a little bit as they crossed the gravel intersection, raising a cloud of dust.

Ah, well. It was nice while it lasted.