Toronto car and bike wars, have an answer?

The recent death of Toronto bike courier Darcy Allan Sheppard, in a road rage incident with former provincial attorney general Michael Bryant, is the ultimate ugly outcome so many of us, both in cars and on bikes, have likely found ourselves just seconds away from being in.

Sheppard was having a bad night  even before he crossed paths with Bryant and his SAAB. The details of their first collision are minimal at the moment but the end result, after Sheppard clung to the windshield of Bryant’s moving car as he sped away, trying to shake off the courier, is there for all of us to know. For more details, click here for the Toronto star piece, I will not recite every detail, there is some good reporting being done on it.

I won’t go off ranting that all cyclists and drivers are good or bad, each faction has bad users, in fact, very bad users.

This incident makes me think of how many close calls I have had with cyclists, whether while in my car or as a pedestrian. I won’t go off ranting that all cyclists and drivers are good or bad, each faction has bad users, in fact, very bad users.

There needs to be more respect on our crammed roads. However, I can comfortably say, that in most of my inner city driving I see more cyclists breaking traffic laws, let alone just common sense ones, than I do drivers. You can argue I’m crazy but I know what I see, among the irritating occurrences are:

  • more cyclists without helmets than drivers without seat belts
  • more cyclists blowing through stop signs than cars
  • more cyclists almost mowing down pedestrians in crosswalks than cars
  • more cyclists making a right turn from the far left lane than cars as well

Among the things that just astound me when  I see them occur on a bike are cyclists who text on their cellphones while cycling or just talking on their cells while rolling along. Yes, drivers do these things too, to an irritating degree, but the sense of impending danger which appears when you see a cyclists doing it is frightening.

I mean…texting while riding a bike? Good lord, one misjudged sewer grate and it is ass over tea kettle time.

The two modes of transportation are vastly different and they each serve their purpose but there is a militant almost arrogant sense of entitlement I see with cyclists which astounds me.

You want to pick at drivers, fine, but when cyclists are endangering pedestrians, that is when I draw the line. As a pedestrian who almost got run over by three different cyclists, in one morning alone, my last morsel of respect and understanding for them went down the drain.

Driving is tough enough already thanks to cellphones, people trying to understand a GPS, blindspots never checked and just bad drivers, lump in bad and arrogant cyclists, it is a blood bath waiting to happen.

We need to find some respect again, I agree. How we begin to get to get there is the question.

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One thought on “Toronto car and bike wars, have an answer?

  1. Vince, you are right it is about respect for others on the road. One place we can start is by paying more attention to what we are doing. RIght? We need to look before we make a turn to see if there is a pedestrian or cyclist there. And cyclists drinking and biking may not as dangerous as drinking and driving, but it can’t be good when it comes to keeping your balance in the road. And I see cyclists, pedestrians and drivers juggling coffee, cell phones and multi tasking rather than having their eyes on the road. I use transit daily and I see cars zoom past the open doors of streetcars all the time. It happened to me tonight. I have to wait before I step off a streetcar and onto the road and not assume drivers will stop. We can start by paying attention for our own safety and that of those around us.

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