- The latest altercation between a car and a bicycle on Toronto's streets has left cyclist Darcy Allan (Al) Sheppard dead and former attorney general Michael Bryant facing two charges of criminal negligence and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.
It is important not to prejudge Bryant's actions. That is best left to the courts. But the incident serves as a tragic reminder that we all have to share the road: motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
That means we have to be respectful of each other. But, given the enormous power imbalance between someone in a multi-tonne vehicle and someone on a bicycle in the same lane, motorists have a responsibility to be extra careful to watch out for cyclists.
This is not to say that cyclists (and pedestrians) have no obligation to follow the rules of the road; they do. But it is an acknowledgement that the consequences are far more deadly for cyclists than motorists when the two collide.
Unfortunately, at the very time when we are encouraging cycling as a healthy, environmentally friendly choice and, accordingly, seeing more cyclists on the road, we are seeing a growing animosity between them and motorists.
Annoyances too easily and too often escalate into confrontation, verbal or otherwise. We let this happen at our collective peril.
Premier Dalton McGuinty summed it up appropriately yesterday. "It's just very sad," he said. "It is very tragic how events that unfold inside a minute can have such a profound impact on peoples' lives, negative impact."
We should all take these words to heart and strive to find the courtesy, patience and respect for life that is needed to share the road without tragedy.
There are increasing frustrations involved in getting around this city – due to congestion, construction, delivery vehicles blocking lanes, illegal parking and so on. We must all take care to guard against the road rage that can emerge from such frustrations.
And one hopes that we can learn from this tragedy rather than let it deepen the "us against them" divide between motorists and cyclists.