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“The city is a boneyard of broken cyclists, all hit by drivers…”

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Article by Catherine Porter in the Toronto Star:

Now, I drive a car too, and can list the reasons why I choose to bike most days: the smell of lilac bushes in the morning, the sense of freedom, the endorphins. But I can also tell you that I get frightened on my bike in a way I never am in a car. There’s no airbag protecting me. When you nudge too close, my heart races. And when you lean out of your window and tell me to go to hell, I don’t have a window to role up.

If I was driving, I’d likely forget your insult a few blocks later. On my bike, it will simmer for weeks.

Because we are exposed, we cyclists take things personally.

Perhaps this why the cycling community rallied around Darcy Allan Sheppard. He captures our anger at drivers who disrespect us and threaten our lives daily. One night last August, he was killed by a car. The driver, former attorney general Michael Bryant, was well known. That opened up the public forum to vent our grievances.

But he’s the wrong symbol for cyclists in the city.

Read the rest here.

  • JD

    I drive, ride motorcycles and cycle. I have been hit on my bicycle and on my motorcycle, the later being very serious injuries. I believe their are legitamite views on both sides, but I have been a witness to 2 incidents downtown were cyclists were at fault. One a cyclist decided to ride between a car (that had stopped at the side of the road) and the curb as someone was trying to get out of the vehicle on the right side (sidewalk side) and almost hit the person and the car door. He did stop on time but screamed, yelled and cussed at the person. As he rode off he went through a red light at the following intersection. The other instance I was driving down avenue road stopped at the red light at eglington. As I saw the opposite lights turn yellow and then red I readied myself for my green light, as a cyclist rode through the red and ended up plowing himself into the back of a minivan. He survived but broke his collarbone. I’m not saying all cyclist are boneheads but these two certainly were. I think also that cyclist should be licences and have plates on their bikes like motorcyclists do. If cyclists have to obey the same rules of the road like vehicles, they should be accountable the same way motorists are. I find too many times cyclist who are at fault get away with things because there is no recourse for the motorist. There’s no licence plate to take to make a report. Again, I’m not here to say all cyclists are bad intact I’m sure the majority are great, but there needs to be a system in place to make the bad apples more accountable for their actions.

  • I think Porter does more harm than good with this article. I’m not saying she’s making things up but at the same time it is quite a skewed view filled with fear mongering. I could write the same article from the point of view of a pedestrian or even a motorist talking about street racing or DUI. She tells of about 2 fatalities per year – that’s two too many, of course, but there were days earlier this year where we had that many pedestrians killed in a day.

    Meanwhile, most interactions I have with drivers are neutral, many are positive. The smallest percentage are negative. The problem is that no matter what you’re doing, the negative ones, whether caused by your mistake or the other motorist have much more dire consequences when you’re not wearing a 3000 lb metal exoskeleton. And what we need to do is work, through enforcement, education, and infrastructure, on engineering out as many of those negative interactions as possible. *That* would’ve been a better way to write that article. After all, there’s even more safety in numbers and an article like this gives the impression that the streets are a war zone when really, IMO, there’s no more risk to riding to work than there is to my walking to the subway and taking transit. Or, for that matter, commuting on a 400 series highway. As my mother in law said in a song she wrote: “Life’s a dangerous business – everyone who goes into it dies.”

    @JD – I don’t think it’s a cyclist issue, I think it’s a human issue. The difference is, if you do something dumb in a car you’re likely to be OK. If you do something dumb on a bike, you may not. As for licensing/enforcement. Folks have tried that all over North America with little success – hell the police in LA even asked to get rid of it because it was so cumbersome. It’s not as if we’re not accountable after all. The same laws apply. Are you really suggesting that if bikes had license plates they could be used to report folks who run a red light or have a near miss? I think it’s a rare occasion where it would be used anything but frivolously. After all, think about when you call a plate in on a car. It’s rare that it’s for a guy who blew a stop sign. It’s for the guy who fled the scene after mowing down a pedestrian or using it as a getaway car after an armed robbery. On occasion if someone appears to be driving drunk or racing (or both) and risking others’ lives you will do it. But it’s not as if Duncan and I will be racing by you on the QEW at 220 km/hr.

    Not that I don’t think enforcement – even *more* enforcement than is already there is a bad thing. I just don’t think a piece of metal is required to do it. More tickets, on the other hand (as long as they’re fairly handed out) can only do good.