Screenshot from InsideToronto.com article on 84-year-old Jack Roper, the cyclist killed last Friday
On July 5th, a cyclist struck and critically injured a pedestrian in Toronto. The pedestrian survived, but this incident set off a flurry of media rage against cyclists. The Toronto Star’s first report on the incident (“Cyclist fractures pedestrian’s skull, gets $400 fine”) called for increased fines for cyclists and listed the number of tickets given to cyclists from 2008 to 2011.
“By assigning themselves all the rights of pedestrians, and all the privileges of drivers, they consider the street an exclusive domain, where rules apply only to drivers who infringe on their space.
It breeds a complacency that lulls cyclists into believing they could never be the author of misfortune, and that nothing bad can happen, unless it happens to them and is caused by a driver.”
On July 6th, the Toronto Sun posted an article calling for cyclists to require licenses to be allowed to ride:
“It’s time cyclists were licensed just like drivers.
Maybe then they would take the rules of the road more seriously. Maybe then they would think twice before they mow down a pedestrian while riding the wrong way on a one-way street.”
“Too many riders seem to feel they have the God-given right to bike however they want with no regulation or rules whatsoever. But that kind of recklessness can be deadly. Two years ago, a woman was killed in Scarborough after she was hit by a cyclist riding on the sidewalk.”
Since the July 5th incident, the Toronto Police have been performing “safety” blitzes targeted at cyclists – handing out fines for traffic offenses and for not having bells or proper lighting.
Meanwhile, in the same area where the police were “blitzing” cyclists and pedestrians last week, an 84-year-old bicyclist was sadly struck and killed by an 81-year-old driver last Friday morning.
The Globe & Mail reported that the cyclist “collided with a car” (even though the cyclist was pinned underneath the car and the car had to be lifted off him before rushing him to the hospital).
Instead of calling for more police blitzes on cars, the National Post reported that the cyclist “apparently collided with a Toyota Corolla travelling southbound in the intersection”, followed by this paragraph:
“Police had been conducting a cycling safety blitz days earlier in the east end, pulling over cyclists at Broadview and Danforth avenues on Wednesday and Thursday to check for proper safety equipment and ensure cyclists were following the rules of the road.”
Just in case the statement that the cyclist “collided” with the car doesn’t lay blame squarely on the cyclist, the Toronto Star makes sure to mention that the 84-year-old cyclist *was not* wearing a helmet.
In its reporting on the cyclist death, the Toronto Star made nary a mention about how many tickets were given to motorists this year. None of the major media outlets called for lowering speed limits on our streets or for targeting motorists who roll through 4-way stops like the one where the 84-year-old was killed.
The Toronto Sun didn’t bother to explain how a *licensed* 81-year-old motorist could have killed a cyclist.
They did however take the time to explain that police issued 363 tickets to cyclists and pedestrians, “ranging from jaywalking and equipment offences to violations under the Highway Traffic Act” after a two day blitz last week.
Over at iBikeTO, Herb puts it aptly:
“Why is it when once every two years a cyclist is involved in an incident with a pedestrian that so many people have solutions looking for a problem (as in the case of licensing), but no one considers that there may be solutions to prevent 84-year olds from being hit or run over by cars? There is certainly a bias that normalizes death by car as just part of a modern society, but perhaps we also can’t apply simplistic solutions like licensing to drivers because in theory the driver already has a licensing. I’m waiting for us to start waking up to the fact that we need to slow down cars, stop considering speeding cars as danger-free, and stop treating death by car as normal.”
Even though the police have been unable to determine whether the driver or the cyclist was at fault, the media didn’t hold back on its arsenal of victim-blaming techniques to imply that the cyclist was probably at fault.
But one thing we do know about this collision is that the cyclist ended up on the underside of the automobile. If the cyclist in fact “collided with the car” (and not the other way around), then would he have ended up underneath the car? Not very likely.
Feel free to come to your own conclusion.
Members of Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists (ARC) will be holding a memorial ride for Jack Roper on Friday August 12th at 8:00AM.