Belfast Telegraph

Gwyneth Paltrow isn't only parent to take risks

By Lindy McDowell

Gwyneth Paltrow, the queen of caution (at least where food additives are concerned), makes headlines this week after what's described as a near-miss accident with a school bus. Whether it was as near-miss as pictures seem to suggest is hard to tell for sure. Gwyneth was driving a moped with her nine-year-old daughter Apple riding pillion through Los Angeles.

Both mother and child (she may have been picking the girl up from school) were wearing helmets although not protective leathers. Had they come off the bike, even at low speed, their injuries would have been nasty. But at least they were both wearing helmets ...

Unlike the pair I spotted the other day, cycling diagonally across a busy traffic junction. The one I presumed to be the father did have a helmet.

He was shouting orders to the child pedalling furiously behind him.

The little boy was bareheaded.

Unbelievable.

But so too are those other parents you see all too often dandering casually along the pavement while their very young children toddle way ahead of them – so far out of reach that if they were to suddenly veer into the road there would be no one there to stop them.

Or those baby buggy drivers who push their precious charge on to the road as they stand at the very edge of the pavement waiting to cross at lights.

Or the car drivers who shepherd their children into the back seat via the door thrown open into oncoming traffic. Or, even worse, allow them to jump out of the car that way.

Being overly cautious, I think we all accept, is not always in a child's best interests.

But there is a happy medium.

And in heavy traffic it involves, at the very least, protective headgear, close supervision and a degree of common sense.

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