PERRY: The mystery behind banned ice-cream trucks in Aurora is kids’ stuff

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A Mister Softee ice cream truck. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Sorry-not-sorry, to be the ice-cold fun crusher when it comes to waving the green flag on ice cream trucks trolling Aurora streets again, but there’s long been a good reason they’re banned here, and in lots of cities.

They’re dangerous and sometimes deadly.

I gave out a real laugh earlier this week when Councilmember Dustin Zvonek announced his “eureka!” moment as a city staffer reported that rolling ice cream trucks are banned in the city.

I thought not only Zvonek but even Sentinel staffers were just feigning shock and awe at the discovery.

“When you hear it, you’re like, ‘There’s no way that’s real,’” Zvonek said of the treat truck ban, according to a story by Sentinel reporter Max Levy. “But it’s a good example of a regulation that’s put in place, and it kind of languishes on the books, and there’s been no real process to take a look at it.”

I realize now that Zvonek and many other people are genuinely flummoxed by the realization.

Why in the world would an entire city outlaw big, square, low-visibility trucks that broadcast loud, startling music to alert children who then act as if summertime Santa had just arrived outside and beckoned them to come and indulge in a fabulous sugar rush, which first requires navigating moving cars on the streets aching to get around these rolling traffic impediments surrounded by amped children completely distracted by the music, the mission, the decision, the money and then the ice-cold reward that cannot wait until the child is safely out of traffic?

Why on this capitalistic, gig-economy Earth would someone not want that rolling through their neighborhood and luring their children into the street?

And how, I ask, have we survived lo these 40 some years without all that?

Blink. Blink. Blink.

Spoiler alert: The ice-cream truck bans grew to a fever pitch back in the 1970s after multiple reports of children being injured and killed as they ran to the ice cream trucks, or ran back from the ice cream trucks, or just got run down by the ice cream trucks.

Aurora’s ban was first established in 1957 and recodified a couple times later. City spokespersons Ryan Luby and Michael Brannen dug up the first bill that made clear luring kids into streets with moving traffic was a bad idea. “Minors are of so immature an age as to be incapable of determining the danger in entering a public street, alley right of way or public way, and are incapable of avoiding other vehicular traffic in order to avoid major injury or death.”

Pretty much.

I live in a neighborhood where these trucks have now reappeared, and I’ve flinched more than once as impatient drivers squeeeeze around a stopped ice cream truck just as some little kid, much shorter than the hood of the giant-ass SUV that can’t wait 60 seconds, ice cream shoved into their gob, obliviously starts wandering away from the truck.

Just two weeks ago, a 2-year-old boy was killed while running to get to an ice cream truck in Dallas. A Chevy Tahoe was trying to get around a stopped truck serving children when the driver hit the toddler, killing him.

It’s not an anomaly. A simple Google search turns up pages of stories of children injured or killed when the trucks roll through neighborhoods.

You don’t have to be very imaginative or even a parent to imagine how streets in Aurora, many even without sidewalks, teeming with all those aggressive, ass-hat drivers you encounter every single day driving with one hand and texting with the other and are a danger to everyone on foot or bike even without the added complication of a rolling truck attracting kids displaying all the wisdom and fervor of your sleep-deprived cousin charging into a Wal-Mart for $25 Black Friday TVs.

What shocks me more than anything is that, unexpectedly, I’m the adult in the room pointing out what I just thought was common knowledge: There’s real danger here.

Being risk averse is not what my friends and family know me for.

I had no problem as a child leaping from my parents’ roof, equipped with my own engineered set of Icarus wings. I miraculously didn’t break anything or die in that failed but exhilarating experiment.

I drive too fast. I bike way too fast. And I ski, very high, in very precarious places, way, way too fast. White-water rafting on Skull Rapids in July? Hellzyeah.

Flying to London a week after Sept. 11 because the tickets were dirt cheap? Totally.

I eat beef and pork virtually raw and never thought twice about diving deep into the fjords of Iceland with my young daughter in tow.

When Aurora finally pondered loosening restrictions on fireworks a few years ago, I was at the front of the parade.

But I’ve seen with my own eyes, as a reporter, what happens when cars and people, especially little people, collide. The car always wins. Always. 

And being a dad who had no qualms about packing my house with my own kid’s pals, I’ve also seen first hand why parental guidance is not just suggested, but required with kids like the one I was.

I learned that you’re a fool to expect children to behave like adults, and ice cream trucks don’t roll down the street to lure grown-ups from their summer doldrums.

Whether Aurora should look closely at places like Connecticut, which just last year passed Tristan’s Law, providing a long list of safety requirements before telling parents, “good luck with that,” I don’t know.

But I do know it’s no big mystery or shock that places like Colorado at one time saw that the danger created to children by roving ice cream trucks outweighed the ineffable gig economy the industry provided.

And while I still regularly dismiss the risks created by very long ladders, very steep sledding stairs and very explosive fireworks, I have learned that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]

 

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Joe Felice
Joe Felice
2 months ago

Why not let adults in on the fun and allow rolling marijuana trucks? Or any number of other fun and feel-good things, just because.

This is just another one that Zvonek hasn’t bothered to think through to its logical conclusion. At least require the operators to

  1. Park out of the public right of way before sounding their jingles and dispensing products; and
  2. Have medical-liability insurance to cover the children that will be injured or killed.
DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
2 months ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

Joe, the real idea is to eliminate laws not more law and restrictions.

Anyway, the reason I replied is that your “rolling marijuana trucks” immediately sent this feel good vision to me of a big marijuana joint vehicle,(like the Oscar Meyer hot dog vehicle) slowing moving down the residential street blaring over their microphone the song, “Don’t bogart that joint, my friend, pass it over……”.

Don
Don
2 months ago

It’s hilarious to see leftist oppose things because the other side supports it

Doug
Doug
2 months ago
Reply to  Don

You support idiocy and the leftists oppose idiocy and you find that hilarious?

Susan
Susan
2 months ago

So let me try to understand this. Council Member Zvonek is outraged about ice cream trucks but not about a camping ban which has no plan to help those in need of housing or other services? And he “represents” our city and his constituents?

Doug
Doug
2 months ago
Reply to  Susan

You got it. And he and Ms Danielle apparently have done nothing to prepare for implementation of that ban

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
2 months ago
Reply to  Susan

No, Susan, our Councilman Zvonek, is not outraged about anything. He believes that having a law outlawing ice cream trucks is not governments place and is doing something about that.

Susan, ice cream trucks have nothing to do with camping bans, now do they?

Finally, Susan, yes, he absolutely “represents” our City and citizens in a very positive way in all his decisions. Thank You, Dustin.

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
2 months ago

I cannot believe, Dave Perry, that you really believe that thousands and thousands of moments of pure glee from children is offset by the possibility of an accident from a careless adult. Really? As I type, my mind hears the laughter of children.

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
1 month ago

Was my censored comments that bad, Dave? Or was it, that I mentioned your name? Was it that what I typed, just not that funny, or true, or false? Was it that, you and your staff just disagreed with my comments? Or is it just, my newspaper, my way? Maybe it’s you feel you can censor on editorials and not news articles. I’m trying to figure this out. Maybe you should have a news article on what your censorship policies are because I sure haven’t figured it out and I thought this was not allowed not only in Aurora but the good ol’ USA.

Think about putting my post back up and see if your readers think it was that bad to be censored. Maybe that would be worth some verbal give and take. Maybe it is time for the Sentinel to address their policies in this arena.

cammy1938
1 month ago

does mr. zvonek know the history of pit bulls not being permitted in aurora? or will that be a surprise to him too?

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
1 month ago

I now believe you are not banning what I say but who I am and that can be very dangerous for a newspaper.

As I know you will censor this, understand that this note is for Dave Perry and your editorial staff. I take it very personal that you have censored and banned my comments from the public. I will continue to make comments that you will not like or agree with until either you post them or you shut down the comment sections.

I will go to other media outlets to let them know how you are seeking and then restricting comments that you do not like or agree with. They, of course, will understand this is blatant censorship and will not reflect positively on the Sentinel.

In my mind, I have not been your enemy but if this censorship continues, how can I be supportive?

It isn’t just about ice cream products, is it?

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
1 month ago

Isn’t that interesting, now I see all my comments posted up. Let the public decide if the things I said are so bad.

Emily L Carroll
Emily L Carroll
1 month ago

I truly was surprised that Aurora banned ice cream trucks in 1957. Even at the thought they were causing alarm in the 1970s. We’ve lived in our house since 1985 and ice cream trucks came up and down our neighborhood streets for 2-3 years before they were stopped. (No tragedies, despite many children in our neighborhood.) Our street is more of a lariat loop, with cars and pickups always parked on both sides most of the way around.(Empty driveways and all have 2-car garages, but, noooo….most park on the street.) The biggest problem with this whole scenario is how people drive. It’s bad enough to drive as if racing in the Indy 500 on main thoroughfares with a 40-45 mph speed limit – 40-45? More like 50-55 or even 60 by way too many idiot drivers. But in a neighborhood it’s usually 25 mph. That’s not unreasonable, so why do some insist on zipping through as if on a life or death mission? I’m not pro-ice cream trucks nor am I against them. I’m against speeders not being stopped and fined their next paycheck (hopefully they even have one). Maybe that will get them to pay attention. Probably not, but I can dream.