Fiona finally got to take her new cruiser for a proper ride today. She and I rode downtown to meet Jan and her cousins for lunch. We were spirited adventurers, blithely ignoring the forecasted rain, the flooded bike trail and other incentives to take the car.
The closed bike trail forced us on to city streets, where Fiona navigated confidently and calmly. The cruiser has only a coaster brake, and it took a bit of practice to get the hang of braking effectively when it was called for.
Being the cautious and smart dad, I steered us away from the busier streets to K Street, a pedestrian mall of sorts that was opened to bicycles just this year. As we rolled onto K, I told Fiona the route would keep us free of sharing space with cars, but would also feature light-rail tracks and the dangers associated with them.
Not three minutes later, we found ourselves on a stretch of road where train tracks crossed each other in a pattern of confusion that resembled an angry kindergartner's scribbles. Navigating this maze would require steely nerves and focus, and I worried that Fiona would panic. As it turns out, I was worrying about the wrong cyclist.
In the time it took to utter a reassuring phrase to Fiona, my front wheel found one of the ruts. As anyone who has experienced this already knows, I was instantly on my way to the pavement. Seeing me fall, Fiona veered slightly to avoid being hit and put her own tire into a track. She and I fell together, with my weight hitting the back of Fiona's bike and helping drive it to the ground.
First, the good news. We're both sore and bruised, but otherwise OK. Nothing broken, but we each sport a pair of scrapes and sore spots.
Now the less good news. The right crank arm on Fiona's bike bent inward, eliminating the clearance between the crank and the line of the chain. I do not know whether this is something that can simply be bent back into position, or if the crank will have to be replaced.
We walked our bikes the rest of the way to lunch and managed to get on with our lives. Fiona's bike is waiting at my office; I'll retrieve it tomorrow and get going on the repair job. No kid should be without her new bike three days after Christmas.
While I'm not one to look for others to blame for these things, I have to say I'm somewhat amazed that this criss-cross of train tracks occupies the entirety of the section cyclists are required to use on this street. The ordinance requires that cyclists ride between the broad yellow lines that mark the section of street used by light rail cars. This makes sense as a way to keep bikes from endangering pedestrians, but some exception (or warning?) has to be made when a section of that area is as dangerous as this one is.