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Motorists vs. Cyclists – Toronto Newspaper Smackdown!

There were a couple of interesting items in Saturday’s Globe & Mail newspaper about The Kensington Incident. While there is some debate that the altercation was really litterbug vs. good-citizen, the obvious parallels to motorist vs. cyclist apply.

The first item was written as an exchange between two Globe & Mail writers, Michael Valpy (cyclist) & Margaret Wente (motorist – identified in the article as “Peggy”, for some reason). It kind of reads like it was one of those “reply-all” email exchanges in the Globe offices, and some editor decided to print it.

I don’t know Valpy too well, but I know of Wente because of her anti-transit rant in the Globe last summer after the hurricanes decimated Gulf of Mexico oil production and raised oil prices.

It’s a great exchange, mainly because Wente-as-motorist epitomizes the selfish driver, writing things like this about why cyclists are often afraid of getting hit by a car:

… this city has an awful lot of traffic, and drivers are occasionally distracted (duh), and sometimes they’re not paying attention, and it’s not an equal contest. They can’t hear you coming and they don’t always check their mirrors. This does not mean that they’re out to get you. The truth is, they’re just not thinking about you at all. Does that make them evil? No, just human.

It’s funny that being distracted, inattentive, deaf and blind while driving is considered acceptable, especially when having control of a giant metal motorized machine.

I could honestly quote the whole article, it’s that good. Valpy does an excellent job of bringing cyclist viewpoints to the fore, while Wente is awesome at re-inforcing all the usual stereotypes about drivers, which isn’t fair, because not all drivers are evil… just misguided.

The second article is “Two against four: the war of the wheels” which does quick work of the whole motorist-cyclist conflict, from a Toronto point-of-view, interviewing people like Darren Stehr of ARC and talking about how Critical Mass started in San Francisco in 1992.

Leah (the courier in the Kensington Incident) leaves us with one of my favourite quotes of the year (which is still young):

I’m not trying to be a self-righteous pain in the ass. But I have principles, and I think you’re supposed to act on your principles. You have to try and work on what’s right around you.

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