I have a daughter who rides her bike in Toronto.
I wish she didn't, but she does.
Back in the day, I even occasionally rode my bike from my home in Leaside to my work in downtown Toronto, mostly through Rosedale.
I live in Milton Ontario, where former bike racing champion Jocelyn Lovell was run down by a dump truck while riding his bike. He is now quadriplegic.
Some years ago, I personally witnessed a bicycle courier run a red light, try to dodge a car (which had the right-of-way), and slam into a concrete telephone pole. Myself and a couple of other passers-by tried to stabilize him until the paramedics arrived. I never found out if he survived or not; I don't know how he could have.
The father of a very good friend of mine was killed when he was run over while cycling.
So I have some personal connection with bicycles and traffic.
As you would guess, I have very little built-in sympathy for a guy like Michael Bryant, the former Ontario Attorney-General who jumped into bed with O.P. P. Superintendent Julian Fantino to implement our ridiculous "street racing" law.
Exactly what happened last Monday evening between Bryant and bicycle courier Darcy Allan Sheppard is still not entirely clear. We do know Bryant's car and Sheppard's bicycle collided, a melee ensued, and Sheppard ended up dead.
Also, we must let due process take its course.
But - you could sense the 'but' coming, couldn't you? - if I were driving top-down in my convertible with my wife in a toney district of mid-town Toronto late in the evening after celebrating my wedding anniversary, and some scary-looking dude (which, by all media accounts and photos, Sheppard certainly would have appeared to be that evening) grabbed on to my car and started yelling and screaming at me - especially with memories of various recent random killings of up-scale people in Toronto fresh in my mind - I don't know that I would have done anything but try to get away from the guy too.
Sheppard was the one who grabbed on to Bryant's car. At any point in the process, he could have let go.
He chose not to.
The results were tragic. But the guilt is widely shared between the two, even if the penalties cannot be.
Bikes and cars do not play together well. Especially in Toronto, it seems. The changes to our road network that Mayor David Miller and other brain-dead utopians have implemented have made things even more dangerous, because they give cyclists a false sense of security.
Bike lanes? When there are four million cars and twelve bicycles in this city? And NO bicycles at all in February?
Removing resources from the vast majority of road users and allocating them to the nearly invisible minority is not only undemocratic, it is foolhardy, and exacerbates the inherent antagonism between cyclists and drivers.
And don’t get me started on pollution. The methane produced by most bike riders on a single ride probably exceeds the annual exhaust emissions from a modern car.
Bike lanes along abandoned railway tracks?
But along busy arterial roads? Where bikes have to dodge cars, trucks, taxis?
Especially as in some cases (cf Logan Avenue south of Eastern Avenue, in front of the Motoring 2009 studios) allowing bike traffic to go the wrong way on one-way streets?
Because in a confrontation, the cyclist always loses. Why create scenarios where such conflicts are inevitable?
In one sense, the car driver has a greater responsibility than the bike rider, because he has the bigger weapon.
But the cyclist carries the far greater risk, and has to act accordingly.
As my old history teacher used to say (he collected epitaphs, of all things):
Here lies the body of Jonathan Ray
Who died defending his right of way
He was right, dead right, as he rode along
But he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong.