Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Life is short.

Looking through old posts, it's hard to believe I haven't once written about biking. It's surprising considering how integral it is to my life. I bike everyday; it's my main source of transportation, and in a lot of ways a source of happiness. If I go a day without biking, I feel cranky. I refuse to walk anywhere more than two blocks, and I even shiver through early winter just so I can keep riding and taking avoid public transportation.

So, needless to say, I felt pretty upset and shaken when I heard about an altercation between a cyclist and Ontario's former attorney general, Michael Bryant that ended in the cyclist's death. I guess heated words were exchanged, the cyclist held onto Bryant's car, was dragged along Bloor Street and eventually died of severe head injuries. And Bryant? He was charged with negligence causing death and operating a motor vehicle causing death.

While there were plenty of witnesses, the police have kept most of the details under wraps, and it's hard to piece together exactly what happened. What led the cyclist and Bryant to have angry words, and why did the cyclist end up holding onto Bryant's car? Reports say that Bryant was arrested at a nearby hotel and that he called 9-1-1, but why didn't he stay in the area where the accident occurred? As is often the case with a tragic death, there are so many unanswered questions.

It's hard for me to even try and understand what happened. As a cyclist, I'm well aware of the dangers of cycling in the city---I almost got doored twice today and almost skidded off my bike once. And I know sometimes it gets fierce between a driver and a cyclist, both shouting curses at each other that seem justified, but I can't even imagine why the cyclist would hold onto Bryant's car. I certainly don't understand how some drivers can feel justified by their reckless behaviour or lack of regard for sharing the road with cyclists. I most definitely do not understand how people can let their emotions run the show especially when they get behind the wheel. Sadly when it's car vs. cyclist, it's the cyclist that pays dearly.

Reports say the victim was Darcy Allen Sheppard, a 33-year-old bike messenger in Toronto. The biking community in Toronto is large but also tightly knit, and I can't help but feel a horrible sense of loss even though I didn't know Sheppard personally. His death was just so senseless and preventable.

At work I have to moderate comments on news articles, and I am absolutely appalled at some of the things people have said. No matter how angry or stupid a cyclist has acted, he doesn't deserve death. I mean, come on. The sad thing is, no one saw this whole thing coming. Bryant probably didn't wake up that morning thinking he'd be involved in an accident and arrested. The even sadder thing is Sheppard probably awoke that morning, not thinking it was going to be his last.

There's going to be a memorial gathering and ride for Sheppard tomorrow at 5 pm at Bloor and Bay.

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