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Former Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant involved in death of Toronto cyclist
September 1, 2009 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Late last night, a cyclist was killed in Toronto. "Ontario's former attorney general Michael Bryant ... will be charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death, a police source tells the Globe, after a collision left a 33-year-old cyclist dead." Accounts vary, but the sequence appears to be 1) Some collision and argument between the cyclist and the driver; 2) The cyclist grabs the driver's door and hangs on (or he may have been caught on the car accidentally) while the Saab convertible drives on; 3) The car drives into the opposite lane, across a construction zone, and the cyclist is battered against mailboxes and light posts; 4) The cyclist falls under the car's back wheels and is killed.

This map shows the path of the accident and includes links to picture and video. (What it doesn't show is how torn up by construction the area is, like much of downtown and midtown Toronto.) Witnesses describe what they saw at the scene.

The cyclist has not yet been identified to the public.

Feelings have already been running high in Toronto about the Toronto Bike Plan and what many motorists consider a War on Cars. A few weeks ago, a woman was killed by a teenager cycling on the sidewalk, but the cyclist was not charged.

Coincidentally, a study based on Toronto accident statistics was recently released, showing that 90% of bicycle-car accidents are caused by clumsy or inattentive drivers, although these results have been disputed.

And while traffic services has been cracking down on both driver and cyclist infractions this summer (and some Critical Massers seem to agree that sidewalk cycling should be cracked down on), some people think cyclists are getting treated with kid gloves, that they shouldn't be on anything but residential roads, and that no more money should be spent on cycling infrastructure. Catch a taste of non-CBC Canadian talk radio here (live streaming here.)

Meanwhile, I suspect another ghost bike is being prepared.
posted by maudlin (574 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by jquinby at 7:56 AM on September 1, 2009


Nice post.
posted by swift at 8:00 AM on September 1, 2009


As one who bikes for his daily commute, I am constantly irritated and sometimes shocked by the lawlessness and idiocy of my fellow cyclists.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:01 AM on September 1, 2009 [28 favorites]


Christ, that is just awful. But I have to ask, why is Bryant's home included on the map of the events? That's pretty sketchy.

Are we really devolving into a car/bike black&white kind of antagonism? Where building bike lanes is viewed as somehow an attack on drivers? That is just depressing.
posted by molecicco at 8:07 AM on September 1, 2009


Wow. This is horrifying.

The matter-of-fact witness accounts, in which they describe their own reactions, really paint a picture of an enraged driver just going nuts, down the wrong side of the road, at high speed, knowing this man was holding on to his car for dear life.

That poor cyclist.
posted by misha at 8:08 AM on September 1, 2009


They've charged him with criminal negligence causing death (unplanned homicide), but to my this appears intentional, after hearing the witness statements. I can't understand why this isn't murder (planned homicide), or at least manslaughter (heat-of-passion homicide).
posted by bonehead at 8:11 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I bike and drive in about equal measure. I see asshattery everywhere, from both cyclists and drivers.

What we cyclists forget about, many times, is our place on the food chain out there.
posted by Danf at 8:11 AM on September 1, 2009 [15 favorites]


Regarding lawfulness and lawlessness, one of the classic failings of law is equality of application under inequality of power. Everyone has the same right to sleep in their own home (if they have one to sleep in). Everyone is equally prohibited from sleeping under bridges. A 200 pound bicyclist has to obey the same traffic rules as a 2000 pound truck.
posted by idiopath at 8:12 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


As one who bikes for his daily commute, I am constantly irritated and sometimes shocked by the lawlessness and idiocy of my fellow cyclists.

I totally agree. I bike to campus and it's a total mess. Bikes dart in front of cars off of sidewalks, they cut across intersections with red lights. Not a single one of them wears a helmet. This probably wasn't the case in this incident, and Michael Bryant hopefully will get his in court as a result, but the negligent behaviour of cyclists in my city is horrifying. It's as if they have no sense of self protection.
posted by cyphill at 8:13 AM on September 1, 2009


But I have to ask, why is Bryant's home included on the map of the events?

I didn't see it there originally, so I either missed it or it was added after I started making this post.
posted by maudlin at 8:14 AM on September 1, 2009


(I just sent a MefiMail to jeffamaphone apologizing, and will be trying to take the rest of the day off from MetaFilter. Sorry for derailing what might turn out to be a good thread.)
posted by Plutor at 8:16 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah... after reading the article, it's because he was arrested at his home, a short distance from the scene.
posted by molecicco at 8:16 AM on September 1, 2009


i wonder if the war on cars is anything like the war on christmas?

i'd like to see a vast army of traffic-law pedants fan out across the city and take down lawless assholes no matter what colour pony they happen to be riding. the weird thing is most cyclists drive, many drivers cycle and everybody walks, but nobody ever applies the lessons they learn from each activity from the others. drivers: stop at the stop line; cyclists: stop at the stop sign; pedestrians: use the goddamn crosswalk. christ, it's not rocket science.
posted by klanawa at 8:16 AM on September 1, 2009 [19 favorites]


Latest from the press conference: several charges are being discussed, but no formal charges have yet been laid. The quote I included above was ascribed to a Globe source, but it's not the final word.
posted by maudlin at 8:17 AM on September 1, 2009


Of course I have to admit that most of the problems I see from cyclists here in Arizona is that for some reason we have a network of entirely unattached bike lanes. You will be riding on a street with a bike lane one second, then it will disapear for a mile and then it will randomly pop back up. Mean while cars are flying past you at 45 mph. If we had a good system of bike lanes and enforced their use then I think the system here would be greatly improved.

We still need to come up with a way for a bike to trip the weight sensors for most stoplights. I hate waiting at one until a car shows up and "helps" me out.
posted by cyphill at 8:22 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am constantly irritated and sometimes shocked by the lawlessness and idiocy of my fellow cyclists.

We can argue about culpability in the original accident. As my driving instructor used to say, all parties in a collision share some blame. It's another thing to blame the dead man here and imply that his behaviour was responsible for his killing. Being rude or thoughtless shouldn't carry a death sentence.
posted by bonehead at 8:23 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


jeffamaphone: "As one who bikes for his daily commute, I am constantly irritated and sometimes shocked by the lawlessness and idiocy of my fellow cyclists."

Ditto, seriously on my ride home yesterday this guy in front of me, no helmet or anything, instead of riding in the unmarked bike lane he is riding out into what is clearly car territory. Which is annoying for traffic, and people like me who want to pass him.
He swears at some driver who drives too close, even tho to give the cyclist a wider berth meant entering the other lane with on coming traffic. Then about a minute later that same cyclist runs a red light.

Dude, you're not helping.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:23 AM on September 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


As one who bikes for his daily commute, there aren't a lot of us, and most (tho not all) of us are alert, which is better than being "safe."

I've been sideswiped by cars that drifted too close, cut off by a bus making its stops, and then forced into oncoming traffic when it pulls away suddenly, not caring there's a bike in the way - four times eight blocks by the same fucking bus - there is no way in hell the bikes are the problem. Inattentive drivers, distracted by ipods, interminable cellphone conversations (it is the year 2009. BUY A GODDAMN HEADSET, OR HANG THE HELL UP, JERK!) and fishing out a fist-full of fast-food fries from the cup-holder are the problem. Aggressive drivers, who take it upon themselves to "punish" bicyclists for being too slow, for being in the intersection when they want to turn, or for being in a turn lane instead of the crosswalk, are becoming more of a problem. (I'm pretty sure the bus was dicking with me deliberately. Called RIPTA, left a message, never heard back.)

More people are commuting by bike these days - it's not just the fixie-kids and drunk drivers what got their license ganked who are riding bikes on urban and suburban roads. The numbers are likely to grow further, as parking and public transport options dry up, and gas prices fluctuate uncontrollably. This is an issue that isn't going away.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:24 AM on September 1, 2009 [18 favorites]


[Eye-fucking derail nixed. I realize there's some real tinder here, but let's try and keep it cool, yeah?]
posted by cortex at 8:25 AM on September 1, 2009


...instead of riding in the unmarked bike lane he is riding out into what is clearly car territory.
Is this satire? Or the other thing–whatchacallit–idiocy.
posted by Mister_A at 8:25 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


how can you have a "heap of blood" ?
posted by monkeyJuice at 8:27 AM on September 1, 2009


I really think some of the antipathy could be averted if places adopted some of Idaho's cycling laws and then rigorously enforced them. Short version: bikes are allowed to treat stop signs and yields and red lights as stop signs. It makes cyclists happy because they don't have to waste energy, or sit around like idiots at lights with sensors. It makes drivers happy if you go after the wingnuts who ride around like half-crazed gyroscopes.

Unfortunately, "these people ride like idiots" has replaced "I couldn't see him" as cager-speak for "I can't bother paying attention at the wheel of my two ton semi-guided missile".
posted by Dr.Enormous at 8:27 AM on September 1, 2009 [29 favorites]


Yes, my comment wasn't the entire extent of my thoughts on the topic. Obviously nobody deserves to get killed in this mess. It was a thought in a vacuum. Sorry for posting before I've had coffee. (Thanks defenders.)

Anyway, the only way to start healing this driver-biker rift is for both sides to stop acting like they have something to prove. If either party in this incident had just walked away it would have been avoided. Instead, what was proven? Nothing, except people suck.

There are plenty of bikers who have something to prove. I see them everyday. They don't obey basic traffic laws, but get huffy if a driver so much as inches over a white line. And I see plenty of drivers who almost hit people everyday because they're not paying attention. Most bikers are advocates of treating stop signs as yield signs, which is possible because on a bike you have superior visibility, you're moving at slower speeds and you have all of your senses focused on your environment. They need to realize the flip side of that is true for drivers, who have terrible visibility, have to make decisions much quicker and are typically distracted by any number of ambient things going on inside the car. Nothing is going to change that; its the culture we live in. Education on both sides is needed to improve the situation.

I don't really want to seem like I'm coming down on bikers, but it really frustrates me, as a biker, because the way I see it most of bikers' problems could be solved by ourselves. I mean, it's to the point in my neighborhood that cars are so shocked when I yield to their right-of-way, they stop and stare at me dumbfounded, like "why isn't he running out in front of me like all the other assholes?"

This is a good post, and I guess most people will see it as about the ex-official and the guy he had an altercation with on a bike who ended up dead. But really this is just an outgrowth of a bigger issue of two parts of society in minor conflict; one an insulted minority who thinks they deserve something because they're special and the other an oblivious majority trying to go about their business amongst this pesky annoyance. Biker's aren't special. Drivers need to realize that bikers are people and have every much the same rights as they do. Both sides need to realize there are consequences for acting like idiots, disobeying laws and starting fights.

I dunno if that's all rational and well thought out, but these are the thoughts I have on my daily ride.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:27 AM on September 1, 2009 [24 favorites]


Gah...stop signs as yields...
posted by Dr.Enormous at 8:28 AM on September 1, 2009


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posted by iamkimiam at 8:30 AM on September 1, 2009


everybody walks

That's quite the assumption. There are a lot of people who walk no more than around the house, around the office, and from car to building. But you're right that people need to apply the lessons from one to the next. As a full-time pedestrian, I have seen some truly appalling walking behavior that'd probably draw police attention and tickets if driving.

I've thought about making a website or book about it, but you really ought to walk as you drive. That is, stay to the right side of the walkway, "pull over" if you need to stop for any reason, don't walk 3-abreast, preventing passing, walk in a straight line rather than swerving and weaving, etc.

I really wish the ever-present Cambridge police would ticket sidewalk bike-riders, too. Vehicles belong in the street. Then again, when drivers honk at you and yell at you to "get off the road," it seems apparent that the written exam for drivers should be required more than just once in a lifetime at age 16.
posted by explosion at 8:30 AM on September 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sometimes it's safer for cyclists not to obey every single traffic law.

RIP Alice Swanson.
posted by exogenous at 8:30 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes, exogenous, it's absolutely true that obeying every sign and signal will get you into a lot of trouble on a bike. Like others have mentioned, I wish that a range of common sense acceptable behaviors was codified.
posted by Mister_A at 8:33 AM on September 1, 2009


Was anyone ever taught how to drive near bicyclists in drivers ed? I can’t remember from mine, but it seems like society would benefit if people knew how to properly pass a bicyclist, when to turn into the bike lane, etc. etc. There’s a noticeably different relationship between drivers and bikers in cities that are more available to bikes (like Minneapolis) versus cities that rarely see them (like st. Paul) *. I don’t think it’s a war between the two; it’s a lack of proper education.

*this is of course my personal experience.
posted by Think_Long at 8:34 AM on September 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


This whole "hanging on the door" angle seem to make this incident a lot different from your average cyclist-hit-while-riding story. Plus the prior altercation. It all sounds pretty WTF and I expect a lot more detail is yet to come.
posted by GuyZero at 8:34 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sometimes as a cyclist I use the sidewalk for safety reasons. I try to treat pedestrians with the same courtesy that I would like to get from cars when I am riding on the street. I get off my bike when approaching a pedestrian on the sidewalk.
posted by No Robots at 8:36 AM on September 1, 2009


exogenous, simply running a red light isn't a reasonable solution to that problem. the end of the article proposes some behaviours for dealing with the danger of large trucks.
posted by klanawa at 8:37 AM on September 1, 2009



We still need to come up with a way for a bike to trip the weight sensors for most stoplights.


It's not a weight sensor, it's a circuit. Sometimes you can get off, lay the bike down on its side over the sensor, and stand back up and sometimes that's enough metal to trigger it. This page says the same thing.
posted by dilettante at 8:38 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


re: NOT stopping at stop signs and red lights.

Unlike driving a car where you have an engine to propel you, biking is very much about momentum. It takes hard earned effort to get moving (particularly uphill) and as such, you don't want to just shut it down every two blocks or so because some city engineer stuck a sign at the side of the road.

So running red lights and particularly stop signs is an easy habit to fall into, particularly on side streets, particularly when traffic is light (and if you're NOT wearing headphones listening to dubstep, and YOU CAN ACTUALLY HEAR WHAT'S GOING ON AROUND YOU). I'm not talking about blazing through at unchecked speed. I am talking about a series of cautious "taxi stops". As exogenous suggests above, it may even be the safer way to drive as a large amount of one's control of their bike involves A. having some momentum, B. not being exhausted.

When driving a car, I try to be very conscious of this aspect of biking and do my best to yield cyclists the right-of-way (usually via eye contact, the odd hand-signal).
posted by philip-random at 8:39 AM on September 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


Saying that bikers and drivers are just two sides of a conflict is like saying the increase in atmospheric CO2 is equally likely to be either human caused or natural. Driving is hugely problematic, whether you're driving like an asshole, drunk, texting, distracted, etc. It's even dangerous when you're trying to be conscientious.

Sure, there are jerky bikers and even jerky pedestrians, but the idea that most problems could be solved by bikers is totally ridiculous. Cars take up most of the infrastructure, are more common than bikes and account for almost 100% of the safety risk.
posted by snofoam at 8:40 AM on September 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


why should I bike follow the same rules as cars? I bike running a red light is like a pedestrian J walking, who gives a fuck.
posted by lacus at 8:43 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


enforced use of bike lanes
instead of riding in the unmarked bike lane he is riding out into what is clearly car territory

Traffic law is not that fucking complicated.

Bicycles are vehicles. They have the same rights, and responsibilities on the road, as cars.

The only exception to the above, is the fact that bicycle lanes are for bikes only, as in, "no cars". Not as in "bikes can only ride here".

Passing a bicycle is like passing a car. You do it when it is safe. You don't do it and follow at their speed when it is not safe.

There is no minimum speed on the road. If you can't handle going that slow, that is your problem, and you just have to deal with it. My bike is narrow, you will soon have a chance to pass.

A courteous bicyclist will ride nearer to the shoulder, because we expect to be passed by cars. This does not mean that we need to be on the shoulder at all times. If I want to take a left turn on my bicycle, I do what any other vehicle would do and get in the left turn lane. In this situation, and any other situation where it is the safest option to take the full lane, I can and will take up the full lane.

Why are people so incredibly ignorant about traffic law?
posted by idiopath at 8:44 AM on September 1, 2009 [74 favorites]


As a cyclist who lives in horror of inattentive downtown jay walkers, I give a huge fuck, because that pedestrian could kill both of us.
posted by maudlin at 8:45 AM on September 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's not just cars and bikes. Walking Alki the other night with some friends, all spread out like a gaggle of geese having a pleasant conversation when out of the darkness comes the cry "Behind you!" and four bikers swoop narrowly past. I start to grumble "Now that is completely and totally..." when I look down and realize that we've been ambling along in a clearly delineated bike lane and lamely finish "...legal."
posted by tspae at 8:45 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


a lawless cyclist will kill themselves
a lawless motorist will kill others

regardless of whether you are a pedestrian, cyclist, rollerbladder, skateboarder, or other motorist, motorists present the largest and only serious threat to your life out there.
(yes - there are tragic exceptions when a cyclist kills a pedestrian - but the stats don't bear this being the biggest threat by any measure).

so yeah - the food chain analogy is great - if we are prepared to really treat the public transportation routes as a free for all war where might makes right (and, if we are, wtf are people belly-aching about the lawlessness of cyclists?)

and yes - bike lanes are viewed as a war on drivers - that is the mentality of a society completely trained to view roads as the sole entitlement of cars.

with regard to rules, it is ridiculous to insist on the same rules for cars and cyclists when the physics of weight, speed, and size make them so clearly separate activities. as laws are based around enforcing activity due to consequences, it is ludicrous to treat them as equal. Eg, insisting cyclists come to a complete stop at 4-way stops.

i think there needs to be a full recognition of cycling as a valid form of transportation - with separate rules where applicable. But more - there has to be a re-education of north-american motorists where sharing the roads is a part of driving - not that pedestrians/cyclists are exceptional and annoying hazards inciting violence. from what i can see, the two biggest part of the problem are i) motorists do not think cyclists belong on the road and ii) motorists are not comfortable driving with cyclists present. Yes there are terribly ignorant cyclists who exacerbate these problems - but that's not where these problems originate from - it is education and societal norms.

i live (and bike) in the city where there have been a number of high profile cases of cyclists deaths due to motorists. And it's confused and frustrated me to no end how in the press here, these discussions so quickly devolve into demonizing the cyclists. a cyclist is killed while biking in the bike line beside a road, and the paper is filled with stories and comments about speeding cyclists on bike paths. i just don't get it - no matter how much cyclists may piss you off, they simply aren't the ones hurting people.

other places in the world do this just fine - and what's the difference to a make a coexistence between motorists and cyclists magically work there? here's a hint, it isn't the the behaviour of the cyclists.
posted by sloe at 8:46 AM on September 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Sometimes you can get off, lay the bike down on its side

Confirmed, but it's a pain in traffic so my city has buttons for bikes to cross just as they do for pedestrians. The question really comes down to how well the city and its laws accommodate cyclists, and this problem is only going to grow in the future. Bikes and similar low power small vehicles are going to become increasingly prevalent and if all vehicles are not appropriately regulated then tragedies like this, admittedly exceptionally tragic, incident will only happen more. The quick vitriol in this thread is proof that temperatures are running a little too high, and that's because friction is inevitable when the roads are not properly zoned and portioned. Cycling is an inherently unsafe activity because we choose to allow it to be so, all well heaping tax money towards counterproductive and largely cosmetic improvements to always-full highways.

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posted by kaspen at 8:46 AM on September 1, 2009


Dude, you're not helping.

Please stop with this. It is not every cyclist's responsibility to help promote an image of cycling.

I frequently ride out in car territory when I feel that is the only way I can be safe. On narrow roads where a passing car would have to come too close. Before roundabouts so that I can keep cars from driving through me while I go around, before I make a turn across traffic (a right hand turn here in England).

Does this piss of drivers? Oh yes. I get honked at. I get yelled at. I get the motor revving routine. You name it. Fuck them. These people are pissed off at everything anyways. I do it so that I can survive. If I stayed at the side of the road in those situations their impatience could kill me. So I force them to see me and take me into account. Promotion of cycling's image be dammed. It's not like they are worried about the image of car drivers.

Cycling isn't going to win over the hearts and minds of drivers ever. You will always be an inconvenience to them and car drivers are driving because they already hate inconvenience enough to pay for repairs, insurance, licensing and a car. The roads may get safer once drivers realize that cyclists are an inconvenience they will just have to deal with. This won't come from cyclists always yielding to cars. It'll come from cyclists claiming their right to the road often enough that cars have no choice but to accept it. Even then it will only be a weak tolerance at best. Remember most road rage incidents occur between cars so they can't even tolerate each other.

But on the topic at hand I have trouble envisaging a scenario matching the current one where the cyclist wasn't assaulting the driver. It was a convertible meaning the driver was exposed. I don't imagine the car door got opened so it is unlikely the cyclist was caught in the door and I don't see how you can be caught on the door. Sounds like a tragic case of the double stupids to me.
posted by srboisvert at 8:47 AM on September 1, 2009 [30 favorites]


We still need to come up with a way for a bike to trip the weight sensors for most stoplights.

By law all the stop light sensors in my city must respond to bicycles and sure enough, they do. Cities just have to use them.
posted by GuyZero at 8:47 AM on September 1, 2009


What's with that "disputed" link? Where's the dispute? Is it buried in the comments?
posted by Wood at 8:49 AM on September 1, 2009


It takes hard earned effort to get moving (particularly uphill) and as such, you don't want to just shut it down every two blocks or so because some city engineer stuck a sign at the side of the road.

This is completely true, yet to my understanding does not give cyclists the right to ignore traffic laws. In a car, stopping wastes gas but this does not mean that we're lobbying for cars to not stop at stop signs under some circumstances.

Just because it's hard doesn't mean that it's not a good idea.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 8:51 AM on September 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


a bike is not at all like a car. a car is 2000 pounds of bike killing steel. bikes do a great service to themselves to run red lights instead of stopping and jostling with these behemoths . bikes that run red lights also do a great service to cars who will no longer need to wait behind a slow moving bike starting up from a red light.

I think it goes without saying that bikes do not run red lights when the intersection is occupied by a car on account of that would make them dead.
posted by lacus at 8:51 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


some people think cyclists are getting treated with kid gloves

Weasel words.

As one who bikes for his daily commute, I am constantly irritated and sometimes shocked by the lawlessness and idiocy of my fellow cyclists.

As one who bikes for his daily commute, I am currently irritated and definitely shocked by the idea that this has any relevance to the man's death. I agree with you, but, really? The third comment, in this thread? With 8 favourites?
posted by regicide is good for you at 8:54 AM on September 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


It's dangerous, though, RikiTikiTavi, to come to a complete stop at a busy intersection. People will intimidate and attack cyclists who stop at lights, precisely because it takes us a little while to wind up again, and they (the motorists) feel put out by this. Better to coast up to the line, carefully assess the situation, and proceed through the intersection.
posted by Mister_A at 8:54 AM on September 1, 2009


well maudlin, I bike downtown too and I stay in the center of the lane taking the whole lane as is my right. this way I avoid peds and car doors.
posted by lacus at 8:54 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Anyway bikers really need to learn when to give and when to take.

When to give: if the sensor isn't sensing you, you can always turn into a ped to get across the street. Scootch over to the sidewalk and press the button, it won't kill you.

When to take: take the lane when you need it. If there's not enough room for you and a car side-by-side then don't pretend like there is. Move a meter to the left and get into the lane, make it crystal clear that they need to pass you using the next (car) lane like they would a car.

I run lights and signs. But I don't do it that much. Your momentum is not worth your life.
posted by Wood at 8:55 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


> He swears at some driver who drives too close, even tho to give the cyclist a wider berth meant entering the other lane with on coming traffic.

The car driver was more in the wrong than the cyclist here. It is the cars responsibility to pass the cyclist at a safe distance. If they can't do that, they have to wait, oncoming traffic or no. For some reason cars think they have this unassailable right to never ever be delayed by a bicyclist for even a half second. Any cyclist that is riding anywhere that causes them to slow down, wait, or stop is an asshat. If motorists actually had any idea what the rules were they would realize they don't have any such right, and the bicycles have an equal right to the roads that they do.

In fact, If there is not space for a bike and a car to safely share the lane, the bike is legally allowed to take the whole lane most places. Most cyclists don't know this and put themselves in very dangerous situations as a result. Take the lane when needed. Learn when it is needed, and do it. Your life depends on it.

I volunteer at a bike co-op in St. Louis with the person that placed the first ever ghost bike at an accident scene.

So, those of you in Toronto, why not get some white paint and a thrift store bike. Make a sign. You get the idea.

On Preview: Wood hit taking the lane, but a second voice on the same topic can't hurt.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 8:56 AM on September 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


exogenous, simply running a red light isn't a reasonable solution to that problem

I never suggested "simply running a red light" as a solution to anything, nor do I think anyone else here has. I do think it can be safer for cyclists, when stopped at a red light, to pull ahead of the stopped motor vehicles so as not to get crushed if one of them turns suddenly.
posted by exogenous at 8:57 AM on September 1, 2009


I wish I could favorite what idiopath wrote 100 times.

People in cars have this tendency to think they're entitled to do anything they want and how dare ANYONE get in their way. Problem is they're driving a 2000 lb rolling weapon and if they get carried away they will kill someone. It's not a fucking video game. No do-overs. Dead.
posted by photoslob at 8:59 AM on September 1, 2009


there always seems to be a whiff of laziness to the argument that "stopping requires work, therefore I shouldn't stop". I feel a twinge of sympathy for that position on the days when I ride fixed since that's where the act of slowing down and stopping can be most expensive, but I still stop at red lights and stop signs because I have personally found, in my experience, that behaving more like a car (stopping, hand-signalling, etc.) allows me to engage in other defensive riding measures that folks associate with the automobile (taking the lane, for instance).

This doesn't mean that I cave in to a driver's wishes and meekly do what I'm told, but it's much easier to be assertive and communicate with your fellow travelers on the road when you speak the same language that they do. Road safety is just as much about advertising intent, acting predictably and avoiding unpredictable actors, than it is managing space and speed.
posted by bl1nk at 9:00 AM on September 1, 2009 [15 favorites]


What makes discussing the whole motorists/cyclists/pedestrians interaction difficult is that we tend to argue our positions from a personal experience rather than a longer view. For example, cyclists that run red lights drive me up the fucking wall, but that's because I was once clipped by a cyclist who ran a red light and hit me as I was crossing in a crosswalk with a walk sign. I am sure many cyclists run red lights safely, but even if I've seen them do it, any experience I have with them is immediately forced out by memories of being hit.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:00 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, that witness testimony is incredibly damning. Fuck Michael Bryant, I hope he's prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law possible.
posted by kaspen at 9:00 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only exception to the above, is the fact that bicycle lanes are for bikes only, as in, "no cars". Not as in "bikes can only ride here".

Actually, I think if a bike lane is available, you have to ride in the bike lane.

If I want to take a left turn on my bicycle, I do what any other vehicle would do and get in the left turn lane. In this situation, and any other situation where it is the safest option to take the full lane, I can and will take up the full lane

Hmm, I think you are supposed to always stay in the right lane. If you need to turn left you stay in the right lane, cross the intersecting street completely, and only then turn left, so that you end up in the right lane of the intersecting street.
posted by bitteroldman at 9:01 AM on September 1, 2009


Ditto, seriously on my ride home yesterday this guy in front of me, no helmet or anything, instead of riding in the unmarked bike lane he is riding out into what is clearly car territory. Which is annoying for traffic, and people like me who want to pass him.
He swears at some driver who drives too close, even tho to give the cyclist a wider berth meant entering the other lane with on coming traffic. Then about a minute later that same cyclist runs a red light.
-MrBobaFett

1. No helmet. Granted, an additional burden on the public health infrastructure perhaps, but still pretty much his choice. I personally think the risk-reward ratio quite favors helmet use, but I guess he doesn't. Whatever.

2. The bike lane's unmarked. If it's not marked, how can it be a bike lane?

3. "Clearly car territory." This is a contentious matter between some drivers and riders (I understand you were riding at the time). I just talked to someone who moved to a mile or two from work to try to convince him to ride in, but he insists that bikes don't belong with the car traffic. In that situation I would probably ride like you did. But there are a lot of people uncomfortable with riding really close to the side of the road, and I can't blame them for taking a lane. Especially if there are parked cars--I assume there weren't though.

4. Swearing at drivers. No excuse, IMHO. No free passes on behavior just because you ride.

5. Running the red. Ditto. no excuse.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:02 AM on September 1, 2009


As one who bikes for his daily commute, I am constantly irritated and sometimes shocked by the lawlessness and idiocy of my fellow cyclists.

This is irrelevant. The cyclist was rammed into a mailbox.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:02 AM on September 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Just once in these idiotic "but they run red lights" discussions, I would like a cager to cop to all the red lights they've run, most often of the "well, it was yellow two or three seconds ago" variety. Not a day goes by that I don't see at least two to three of these, and I don't have a long commute.

I'll freely admit to doing it myself. I also run red lights if I'm in a bike lane on the top portion of a T intersection, and at the one stupid light in the back roads that has no reason for existing since there's never any traffic there.

"But they're doing something bad too" wore out as an excuse by the time you were 5, and the cyclists are massively unlikely to kill anybody.*

*Except me. Why to all the cyclists who jump lights without looking have to be so slooooow. It means I have to re-enter the passing cars to pass them again and again
posted by Dr.Enormous at 9:03 AM on September 1, 2009


in the absence of bike paths a bike gets an entire lane.
posted by lacus at 9:03 AM on September 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Actually, I think if a bike lane is available, you have to ride in the bike lane.


Wrong, reread Idiopath's comment. A bike is a legal vehicle with the same rights to the lane as a car.
posted by kaspen at 9:03 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


For those who would like to avoid high traffic roads, and are frustrated by the lack of a "By Bike" option on GoogleMaps, I offer an excellent bike trip planner that allows you to avoid traffic lights, cobblestone roads, main streets, unlit streets and the like: bbbike.de. Don't be fooled by the german domain, there are maps for cities across Europe and North America. And I think you can add to the project, since it's based on the OpenStreetMap project.
posted by molecicco at 9:03 AM on September 1, 2009 [7 favorites]



Actually, I think if a bike lane is available, you have to ride in the bike lane.


Bike laws are generally by state, in the US. I can't speak for all states, but in my state, and to my understanding most other places, if the bike lane is not safe you don't have to ride there. It is frequently in disrepair, debris-strewn, or has cars parked in it. That's when there even *is* a bike lane. My commute has few lanes, and I almost prefer it. I'd just like the right lane a bit wider in places.


Hmm, I think you are supposed to always stay in the right lane. If you need to turn left you stay in the right lane, cross the intersecting street completely, and only then turn left, so that you end up in the right lane of the intersecting street.

Again, bike laws are by state (in my country. There are many other fine countries). But I am not aware of any state where this is the case. Where is this jurisdiction? Do you bike often? Do drivers expect this?
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:07 AM on September 1, 2009


Wow, that Bryant guy is nuts. It was probably not a good idea for the biker to grab on to the guy's car, but it sounds like Bryant killed him just as much as if he hit him with a tire iron.
posted by demiurge at 9:08 AM on September 1, 2009


You know, as a cyclist in Toronto, I'm fine with stopping at both stop signs and stop lights. I'm fine with staying in the bike lanes where they exist (sporadic) and where it is practical (I do need to pass other cyclists, not to mention the fact that the pavement in a lot of bike lanes is pretty torn up). I get annoyed at cyclists who pass me to run a light (especially when I catch up with them half a block later) and I get seriously pissed at cyclists on the sidewalk. To me both these things smack of either laziness or cowardice.

Nevertheless, I have been struck by cars at low speeds twice this summer alone. The second time resulted in minor injury to me and damage to my bike. I've narrowly avoided being hit on several other occasions. PEOPLE OF TORONTO, STOP TRYING TO HIT ME WITH YOUR CARS.

That being said, the incident last night sounds extremely fucked up and probably has less relevance to a general debate on the place of bikes on our roads.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:08 AM on September 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


Hmm, I think you are supposed to always stay in the right lane. If you need to turn left you stay in the right lane, cross the intersecting street completely, and only then turn left, so that you end up in the right lane of the intersecting street.

This couldn't be more wrong. I ride like a car. I stay as far to the right as is practicable and safe. To turn left in a four lane road I look over my left shoulder*, signal, and then change lanes twice to get in the leftmost lane of traffic.

The technique you suggest is acceptable and has a name which I cannot recall. I would use it if traffic were heavy enough. Others can use it whenever they like.

* I have been in a 10-year phase of loss over my helmet mirror. I haven't found anything satisfactory to replace what we use to clip on when helmets had hard shells.
posted by Wood at 9:09 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, the bike taking a lane when there is a bike-path thing depends.

Some states have laws that if there is a bike path, you must use it no matter what.

Some states have laws that you must use a bike path unless it is unsafe to do so.

Some states have laws that you can use either one at your whim.

Internationally there may be even more variation.

I do know that unless something is marked as a bike path, it isn't a bike path. MrBobaFett seems to have an axe to grind with that red herring. His cyclist was riding on the road instead of on the shoulder as far as I am concerned, and that is allowed.

Sometimes I do ride on the shoulder. Other times I don't. One part of my ride home is in a pitch black area with no streetlights. At night I ride in the road because there are dead things, glass, gravel, gratings, etc. on that shoulder, and even though I have a light, I have still come up on something too suddenly for comfort.

In the end, even if a cyclist isn't supposed to be on the road, if she is, you have to pass her safely whether to do so is an affront to your sensibilities or not.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 9:11 AM on September 1, 2009


TheWhiteSkull, were you at an intersection when struck?
posted by lacus at 9:11 AM on September 1, 2009


Wood: Adhesive helmet mirrors
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 9:12 AM on September 1, 2009


Saying that bikers and drivers are just two sides of a conflict

It's true that cars are just more dangerous and risk far far less in a collision between the two, and it's certainly credible to argue that drivers have a responsibility to act all the more carefully. That doesn't mitigate the larger point that both kinds of parties could do a lot more to increase safety for themselves and others.

That said... I don't understand why Bryant isn't charged with murder or manslaughter either. The kind of behavior described in the article goes far beyond negligence or recklessness. I guess I can kindof see wanting to move and get out of a situation where somebody's grabbed onto your car, maybe even threatening you, but you don't do what he did unless you intend to seriously hurt or kill someone.
posted by weston at 9:12 AM on September 1, 2009


Biker's aren't special. Drivers need to realize that bikers are people and have every much the same rights as they do. Both sides need to realize there are consequences for acting like idiots, disobeying laws and starting fights.

QFT. I think people are just self-centered and impatient. Cyclists don't like stopping for no traffic, just to start again. Drivers don't like being delayed because of a cyclist. Many people, no matter what they ride or drive, don't consider the consequences of their actions. Many people get angry when someone does something that endangers them or inconveniences them.

Personally, I don't think it's very productive to get into an argument with a driver or rider, regardless of what happened. Just flag it and move on.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:14 AM on September 1, 2009


As one who bikes for his daily commute, I am constantly irritated and sometimes shocked by the lawlessness and idiocy of car drivers.
posted by cccorlew at 9:15 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wood: there are also variants that clip on eyeglasses. I personally prefer the helmet mount as I don't always wear glasses.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:16 AM on September 1, 2009


What an appalling incident. Incomprehensible. Apart from the mystery of what could cause an apparently rational and responsible person to start behaving like a murderous psychopath, can the cyclist really still have been holding on to the car - even when it must have been obvious that fatal danger was involved? Or was one hand trapped in the window or something? Was Bryant holding on to the cyclist?

Maybe a different picture will emerge when more detail is available - but what could explain this apart from insanely escalated rage?
posted by Phanx at 9:16 AM on September 1, 2009


Actually, I think if a bike lane is available, you have to ride in the bike lane.

You think wrong, at least for the jurisdiction where this killing took place. Bike lanes have no legal standing in the Ontario Traffic Act. Bicycles are regulated explicitly as vehicles, in the same class as cars. The only special rule for bikes is against riding on sidewalks for adult-sized bikes.
posted by bonehead at 9:16 AM on September 1, 2009


Oh, and a long belated:

.

Sounds like a bad situation all around; I can only hope it leads to safer roads someday.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:17 AM on September 1, 2009


So this was the cyclicst's fault then? Glad we got that sorted out.
posted by unSane at 9:19 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Please stop with this. It is not every cyclist's responsibility to help promote an image of cycling.

I frequently ride out in car territory when I feel that is the only way I can be safe. On narrow roads where a passing car would have to come too close. Before roundabouts so that I can keep cars from driving through me while I go around, before I make a turn across traffic (a right hand turn here in England).

Does this piss of drivers? Oh yes. I get honked at. I get yelled at. I get the motor revving routine. You name it. Fuck them.


I can understand that being a cyclist means that you have to adopt a more defensive position and watch more carefully for your own safety, but abdication of any responsibility and "fuck them" attitude? Not good. Traffic in any vehicle requires an attitude of responsibility and consideration.
posted by weston at 9:23 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't get it. Cyclists running lights and ignoring signs, riding on the sidewalk, and admitting it freely, and yet they expect to be treated as equals on the road? No, dickheads, equal on the road means you respect the rules and regulations just like every other traffic participant is supposed to. That said, I do believe that heavier vehicles should carry more legal responsibility. They do that in The Netherlands.
posted by monospace at 9:23 AM on September 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


according to the 'blame the biker first' crowd here it is always the bikes fault for the original sin of being on the road at all.
posted by lacus at 9:24 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: constantly irritated and sometimes shocked.
posted by jquinby at 9:26 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's dangerous, though, RikiTikiTavi, to come to a complete stop at a busy intersection. People will intimidate and attack cyclists who stop at lights, precisely because it takes us a little while to wind up again, and they (the motorists) feel put out by this. Better to coast up to the line, carefully assess the situation, and proceed through the intersection. (Mister_A)

I have heard this argument before, and I still disagree that it's safer. I don't doubt that there is intimidation and attack--not around here, though. If I were so attacked I suppose I would rethink my position. But I think the risks of not stopping are higher than those of stopping. I think it's the most predictable to the most people, and hence the safest. Those lights are there for a reason, and I don't count on myself seeing all the possible risks with running a red.

But in general I'm in favor of doing the safe thing even when it conflicts with the legal thing. It just so happens that to my mind the safe thing is safe by virtue of it being the legal thing. Happy riding!
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:26 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


TheWhiteSkull, were you at an intersection when struck?

The first time this year was at an intersection on Davenport where a Benz passed me and gave me the right hook. The second time was in the middle of a block (also on Davenport) where some lady decided that now would be a good time to pull into the bike lane without looking. Considering that so many drivers treat bike lanes as optional, in the interests of my own safety, I will treat them as optional as well.

For everyone's reference, The Ontario Highway Traffic Act:

http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90h08_e.htm

Note section 147:

Any vehicle travelling upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at that time and place shall, where practicable, be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway.

Exception

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a driver of a,

(a) vehicle while overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;

(b) vehicle while preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway; or

(c) road service vehicle. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 147 (2).
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:26 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


listen monospace, the number one place for injury to occur is at an intersection. the most common injury is caused by cars inching up on bikes that have decided to wait patiently in line at a red light.

therefore,

I run red lights.
posted by lacus at 9:27 AM on September 1, 2009


So do we actually know why there was an altercation to begin with? I read the article a few times and it wasn't made clear. For all we know the cyclist was sleeping with Bryan't wife.
posted by cimbrog at 9:27 AM on September 1, 2009


Why are people so incredibly ignorant about traffic law?

Because driver education sucks. In most places it is far too easy to both acquire and maintain a driver's license. And yet, we continue to wonder why there are so many traffic deaths every year, and such an unpleasant relationship between cyclists and drivers.
posted by god hates math at 9:28 AM on September 1, 2009


Sorry, should have pasted as a link:

Ontario Highway Traffic Act
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:31 AM on September 1, 2009


What a bizarre timeline the Globe and Mail published. It's not a timeline of the accident. It's a timeline of the reporting on the accident.
posted by smackfu at 9:32 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by gurple at 9:34 AM on September 1, 2009


I can't stand that MetaFilter turned this incredibly well-composed thread into a sadly typical re-hash of the same cars-vs-bikes argument we've had a hundred times on this site.
posted by hermitosis at 9:35 AM on September 1, 2009 [13 favorites]


Victim identified.

The victim in a fatal accident involving former attorney general Michael Bryant was a 33-year-old bike courier named Darcy Allen Sheppard, The Globe and Mail has learned.

Mr. Sheppard had been working for Action Messenger since January, according to an employee who answered the company's phone. She said that Mr. Sheppard was well like and that a customer had recently sent a letter to the company just to say what a pleasure it was working with Mr. Sheppard.

...

Raajiv Rajadurai, 23, said he was in an eastbound vehicle on Bloor Street when he saw a cyclist slam his backpack onto the hood of a convertible and then grab the driver's side mirror as the vehicle sped away.

“The driver was going so fast that at one point the biker was holding on to his car and there were sparks coming from the bottom of his shoes,” he said.

“It seemed like the driver was trying to shake him off because he turned really suddenly, put on the brakes, jetted it one last time and then all your hear is three thumps and then the guy falls on the floor.”

posted by maudlin at 9:35 AM on September 1, 2009


It's simple really : If your vehicle even slightly impacts a significantly smaller vehicle, you should lose your license for 10+ years. SUV touches car, no more license. Car touches motorcycle, no more license. Motorcycle touches bike, no more license.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:36 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


That sounds like a fabulous zero-tolerance policy. Those usually work out well.
posted by smackfu at 9:37 AM on September 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


I ride on the sidewalk under exceptional circumstances. When I am riding on the sidewalk I behave as a guest. I don't always dismount but if there are any people I ride only a scootch above dismounted speed. In addition to peds you have to consider that intersections are exceptionally dangerous for a mounted a biker on the sidewalk. The default should be to ride at walking speed.

Most recently on a 25 mile ride around Lake Sammamish there is a stretch of about a mile where the traffic is heavy and the curb is poor that I "traverse" on the sidewalk. There were 0 peds but there were several entrances to parking lots etc.

I don't do "distance" on sidewalks partly because it simply wouldn't be practical at the speeds I ride on sidewalks.
posted by Wood at 9:38 AM on September 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Please stop with this. It is not every cyclist's responsibility to help promote an image of cycling.
I frequently ride out in car territory when I feel that is the only way I can be safe....Does this piss of drivers? Oh yes. I get honked at. I get yelled at. I get the motor revving routine. You name it. Fuck them.
(srboisvert)

I can understand that being a cyclist means that you have to adopt a more defensive position and watch more carefully for your own safety, but abdication of any responsibility and "fuck them" attitude? Not good. Traffic in any vehicle requires an attitude of responsibility and consideration.
(weston)

No, weston, it's not abdication of responsibility and a "fuck them" attitude, not exactly. He's saying that when "responsibility" and "consideration" mean "put yourself at greater risk by moving over", then yes, fuck 'em. I do everything I can to make it easy for cars to coexist with me with a minimum of inconvenience. But what drivers don't often understand is that the reason the cyclist is taking the lane is that he or she has determined that it's the safest possible position for him/her. You think we *like* riding in traffic lanes? For the most part (some lawbreaking excepted), the reason we're where we are is that we've determined that every other alternative is less safe. I am not going to tell someone to put themselves at risk to save a driver literally seconds off a commute.

Actually, I'm kind of a bad spokesperson on this point because I tend to ride in the "door zone". It's probably the most dangerous thing I do on the bike, and I do it so that cars can get past me easier. But I fervently believe that a cyclist needs to do what they need to do to be safe, and if it inconveniences a car, well, so be it. Red lights, stopped school buses, and pedestrians in crosswalks are inconveniences too. But it's still not everyone else's obligation to make way for The Almighty Automobile.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:38 AM on September 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


No more license == no more job for 99% of the population so that simply isn't going to fly. besides, having draconian penalties isn't going to stop anyone. You take away people's licenses all you get it people driving around unlicensed.
posted by GuyZero at 9:38 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


the fucker killed a messenger! that's like killing bicycling royalty.

let the war between bike and car commence!
posted by lacus at 9:42 AM on September 1, 2009


I can't stand that MetaFilter turned this incredibly well-composed thread into a sadly typical re-hash of the same cars-vs-bikes argument we've had a hundred times on this site. (hermitosis)

I can't speak for typical re-hash (I don't have an encyclopedic memory of Metafilter), and I agree that it was a good post/thread. But is it all that bad in here now? There's a post involving a bike/car altercation, and among the expressions of sympathy (and outrage) there's a discussion about the relationship between cars and bikes, and a bit of what could be done to improve that relationship. And some relevant laws and practices.

I don't know if it's typical, but it doesn't seem terrible. Personally, I'm all for hearing more about how motorists view me, and the related discussion seems, well, related. Topical. And respectful, to boot.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:44 AM on September 1, 2009


I can't stand that MetaFilter turned this incredibly well-composed thread into a sadly typical re-hash of the same cars-vs-bikes argument we've had a hundred times on this site.
You beat me to it. Why does it have to be this way? Most cyclists I know have or ride in cars. Many drivers I know (like me) love bikes. (Insert Venn diagram here).
It's awful that some people are jerks, and I hope that on my drive to work (my job pretty much requires I drive) I don't act like an ass to people on foot and cyclists. I know I don't have to be a representative for all "cagers*" but I'd like to at least show we're not all asshats or that we resent bikes. Do I get mad at individual cyclists sometimes? Sure, but not because they're cyclists but because they're behaving like jerks. Jerks come in all flavors, shapes, sizes, and modes of transport. OTOH, I do appreciate that in threads like these, cycling commuters remind me about the hassles and perils they face and make me think about things I might not otherwise consider enough.

*A term I don't love, but since I a) drive and b) sometimes date guys a few years younger, maybe I'll just start calling myself the Caged Couger and embrace a superhero persona :)
posted by pointystick at 9:44 AM on September 1, 2009


It's simple really : If your vehicle even slightly impacts a significantly smaller vehicle, you should lose your license for 10+ years. SUV touches car, no more license. Car touches motorcycle, no more license. Motorcycle touches bike, no more license.

Nice sentiment, but, yeah--a bit much. In fact--my own mea culpa moment: just yesterday I hit a glancing blow to the side of a bus. Not his fault at all--he was stopped, I was passing and my front wheel slipped sideways in a puddle. Probably shouldn't have tried to pass, but certainly he shouldn't have lost a license at all.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:49 AM on September 1, 2009


therefore,
I run red lights.


So if you got hit while running that red light (heaven forbid!), whose fault would you say it was?
posted by monospace at 9:50 AM on September 1, 2009


I'm surprised by the turn the comments took. Don't get me wrong -- Bryant sounds like a deranged douchebag who deserves harsh prosecution for this guy's death. But my first reaction was all about the cyclist: it sounds like he grabbed on to the car and refuse to let go. Who in his right mind grabs on to a moving car to make a point? That's just...unwise. I understand road rage, but man -- I'm sure the cyclist's family wishes that he had popped a Xanax instead.

Still, let me repeat, he should not have died for losing his temper. The witnesses sound pretty clear on the fact that Bryant was gunning to hurt him. I'll be amazed if he gets away with criminal negligence, it sounds like murder to me.

More in keeping with the comments -- I would love to bike to work. I would love to bike more, period. But I'm not confident enough in my skills to take on the traffic around here. It's unfortunate.
posted by artemisia at 9:52 AM on September 1, 2009


Holy shit. Just heard about this. I have always hated Michael Bryant (he's the man responsible for the ban on Pit Bulls and other breeds in Ontario). I've met him several times and his behavior here doesn't surprise me.

I was almost crushed on my bike by a bus yesterday at about 6:45 on Davenport. The driver passed me and then pulled into the cycling lane, forcing me into a parked car. When I caught up to the driver, he of course blamed me and refused to surrender his badge number.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:54 AM on September 1, 2009


but, you see, I would never enter an intersection occupied by, or soon to be, a vehicle.

one of the first rules you learn as a biker is that two objects cannot occupy the same space because it hurts.
posted by lacus at 9:55 AM on September 1, 2009


re: cars and bikes following the same rules.

unless and until there are actually different laws on the books for bikes and cars, simply breaking existing laws isn't going to help. being safe on the road, where everyone's in a constant state of information overload, requires that all road users behave in predictable ways. making up your own rules as you go is asking to get your ass squished.

one of the big irritants for me as a cyclist is when a driver passes me before making a right turn (and I'm going straight). often, the driver will move to the left side of their lane, stop and simply wait for me to pass on the right, which is illegal and dangerous (i've been struck by a car doing just that). if cyclists could be counted on not to pass illegally on the right while a car is making a right turn, drivers wouldn't be so paranoid about making the turn properly. I always wait for drivers to turn, which hangs up traffic and makes me the asshole, even though I'm the only one not breaking the rules.
posted by klanawa at 9:55 AM on September 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


20 years ago when I was a city biker in Toronto I had a great experience with a driver, a cab driver no less. I was riding up Bay Street and at one of those places where there were barriers on the sidewalk to prevent jaywalking, a cab was stopped at a light. At the moment I passed on the inside, with nowhere to go, the passenger opened the door and I hit it, went over the top and landed on the road.

The cabbie immediately jumped out of his seat - into traffic - and checked if I was okay. He then started screaming at the passenger, while at the same time explaining to me that he had warned the guy not to get out with the bike about to pass. He literally held the guy and demanded a business card from him so that I could sue him if it came to that.

I was okay, and, luckily so was my bike. I dusted myself off (hooray for being an early adopter with the helmet) and thanked the cab driver. He was offered me a ride anywhere I wanted to go, but I was okay, and able to keep riding.

And then, in a fit of generosity, he gave me the guy's fare. It was ten bucks, which the passenger had shoved into the cabbie's hand as he left the car. The driver said "here take this and at least get yourself some lunch."

I'll never forget that cabbie. I kept the guy's business card for a while, but I never got the name of the cab driver. And I've never looked at drivers the same way again. It taught me right then and there not to judge those that choose to encase themselves in metal to get around. Sure there are lots of assholes, but there are plenty of folks looking out for us too.
posted by salishsea at 9:56 AM on September 1, 2009 [31 favorites]


MetaFilter turned this incredibly well-composed thread into a sadly typical re-hash of the same cars-vs-bikes argument

The second half of the more inside is all about cars-vs-bikes in Toronto though. The poster could have kept it to just to this one incident but they chose to make it general.
posted by smackfu at 9:57 AM on September 1, 2009


I mean, it's to the point in my neighborhood that cars are so shocked when I yield to their right-of-way, they stop and stare at me dumbfounded, like "why isn't he running out in front of me like all the other assholes?"

This has reached the point, where I live, where obeying the law is functionally dangerous; when I arrive at a four-way stop and actually stop for other cars that got there first, the other drivers are flabbergasted to the point that they just sit there. This is then followed by five seconds of me waving the driver on, and them staring at me agape, ignoring me waving them on, and then me finally deciding to just go, and the driver, in turn, deciding to slam on the gas the very second my feet touch the pedals.

This happens several times a week.
posted by Shepherd at 9:59 AM on September 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Dude, you're not helping.

Please stop with this. It is not every cyclist's
driver's responsibility to help promote an image of cycling driving.

Seems kind of assholish that way too, doesn't it?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 10:02 AM on September 1, 2009


This happens several times a week.

FML it happens at one intersection close to my house every day as well. Just go people. Please don't cede the right-of-way.
posted by GuyZero at 10:03 AM on September 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


I bike and I drive and I think that gives me good perspectives from both sides of the issue. My daily, year-round commute is via bike and I am fortunate to have a designated bike path from my home all the way to my place of work.

That said, I've been yelled at pedestrians, cars, and (even more bizarrely) homeowners. For example:

1) Pedestrians. The bike path I take goes a stint down a residential street. There is no marked bike lane or widened shoulder, but an extra wide sidewalk runs along one side of this passage. In the summer I ride on the road away from pedestrian traffic. In the winter, when the road conditions permit, I ride on the road. When I no longer feel I can share the road safely with cars I use the sidewalk. When I do use the sidewalk I realize I'm the secondary traffic and pedestrians are first. Because it's winter, usually there is no pedestrian traffic. When there is I approach slowly, ring to make them aware, and where there's a place where we can safely pass each other, I do. When I pass, I say 'thank you' to the pedestrian and give a wave.

Where it falls apart: I ring my bell 1/2 block away from a pedestrian. They're wearing an iPod and do not hear me. As I get closer, I stay about 2m behind them, slow to their walking speed, and ring again. Again, they do not hear me. I wait until there is a safe place to pass (intersection or driveway with wide path). Before I pass I now use my voice to say I'm coming. The pedestrian is startled and starts to yell at me telling me to get off the sidewalk and use the road or stay at home. A heated discussion ensues.*

2) Cars. The bike path goes through an urban (university research) farm. This path has no regular car traffic, but is occasionally used by service vehicles or the odd visitor to one of the barns. Again, during winter I bike on the part of the road that is in the best condition. Often that's the centre of that road. One day, I bike that stretch and as I exit to from this service road to an overpass I have a van that was behind me pull up to berate me to ride on the shoulder or get off the road. I explain it's a designated bike path and I'm riding in the safest place on it and remind them that at any point they could have stayed a safe distance behind me, honked, and I would have let them pass. A heated discussion ensues.

3) Bizarro. I'm riding up that same residential stretch as in 1). It is winter and -27°C. There is not a pedestrian to be seen. The road is a mess and I begin to ride down the sidewalk. From down the driveway of a house, a homeowner walks into my path and stands in my way to stop me. I stop. They proceed to tell me to use the road or stay home and lecture me that it's against the law to for bikes to be on the sidewalk. A heated discussion ensues.

Because I bike and I drive, I really try to respect each position. My main priority always is to make sure everyone gets where they need to go safely -- pedestrians, cars, and other bikes. I ride with a certain set of rules on the street knowing that cars can kill me and I ride on the sidewalk knowing that it's the pedestrian's domain and I'm borrowing it. When I'm riding on the sidewalk I know I'm trading speed for safety and that's a fair proposition. I respect people and property and I always make sure I signal, use my bell, am lit, etc.

I work to be the safest, most predictable vehicle for car and pedestrian traffic and, as said before, I use a designated bike path for the entirety of my commute.

And I still get the rage of self-entitled pedestrians and cars!

-----
* BTW, 'heated discussion' usually starts with me making an honest attempt to explain what I'm doing and why. I do listen to what the driver/pedestrian has to say and I try to respond to them in a constructive way. These discussions invariably end with both sides telling each other to 'Fuck off!'.
posted by mazola at 10:03 AM on September 1, 2009


Raajiv Rajadurai, 23, said he was in an eastbound vehicle on Bloor Street when he saw a cyclist slam his backpack onto the hood of a convertible and then grab the driver's side mirror as the vehicle sped away.

Wow. Yeah. I'm not saying the guy in the car was in the right -- he should have just stopped the fucking car! -- but if this is true, then the cyclist pretty much put himself in harm's way. He didn't have to escalate the confrontation by grabbing onto the car; like Danf said above, whether you're in the right or not, behaving aggressively toward a car is an equation which generally ends badly for the one on the bike.
posted by vorfeed at 10:06 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


So the cyclist was asking for it? Just checking that we're all still on message here.
posted by unSane at 10:09 AM on September 1, 2009


so vorfeed, we get in an argument and you pull out a gun and blow me away ...

I guess I share in the responsibility?
posted by lacus at 10:10 AM on September 1, 2009


I'm always kind of shocked that we as a society put up with the high fatality of our personal automobiles. Traffic collisions are one of the leading causes of death (and even moreso if we take out "natural causes"), but we turn a blind eye to it because... why? Because they're so convenient? Or maybe it's societal inertia?

Not that any government official would be able to get away with any sort of effective solution to this problem (15km/hr speed limit within city limits, no personal vehicles within city centre, etc).
posted by ODiV at 10:14 AM on September 1, 2009


It appears from the latest eyewitness testimony (which could still be contradicted) that the cyclist was no longer a cyclist when he was killed. He was a pedestrian who had dismounted his bike and grabbed the mirror. Apparently he was running like hell to keep up with the car as he was banged against objects and fell under the wheels.

It still seems damn idiotic to hang on to a moving car, but I guess he expected that the driver would choose to stop. Bryant apparently didn't just keep on going, he tried to scrape the guy off like a bug.
posted by maudlin at 10:16 AM on September 1, 2009


I can't stand that MetaFilter turned this incredibly well-composed thread into a sadly typical re-hash of the same cars-vs-bikes argument we've had a hundred times on this site.
Ya know if you'd bothered reading the comments you would have realised that 90% of what we're discussing is biker v. biker, whether and when to obey traffic signals etc. But no, you had to come in and act all high and mighty. How classy.

The bottom line is the reality of the situation. As a biker I have to at least take reasonable care that I don't get injured. I wear a helmet, I signal and I don't swerve out in front of cars. Bikers that refuse to take a reasonable amount of care for their own safety shouldn't be allowed to ride bikes in public because they are endangering themselves and others. Cities owe it to their citizens to promote biking, it relieves traffic congestion and pollution. When I moved to AZ people tod me I would need a car to do anything. Everything is "miles and miles" apart. Except that I live in a DIFFERENT CITY then my Univ. and it takes me 20 minutes top to bike there in the morning. I'm less then 10 minutes away from 3 grocery stores, 5 bars and a bunch of restaurants. People only think you have to have a car here because they don't see that many bikers on the road, and the speed limit on all the roads are 40 mph with no bike lanes. You city kids that talk about swerving through lanes obvious haven't had to ride on roads where if I get tapped I have high likelihood of getting killed. That's why I say more bike lanes, less bike idiots.
posted by cyphill at 10:17 AM on September 1, 2009


And no, once again, I'm not saying that the cyclist deserved to get killed. No one is. stop trying to get a rise out of people unSane.
posted by cyphill at 10:18 AM on September 1, 2009


I tend to ride in the "door zone".

I would probably ride to work a lot more than I walk if there was some reasonable answer for this problem. A car is just vastly more visible from the side-view mirrors of your typical automobile (provided that the door-opening idiot actually bothers to look, which isn't a guarantee at all).

This poor guy, though... it reminds me of a surveillance video I saw recently of an accident in a parking lot. Apparently a driver hit another in the lot, and while the guy who was hit is taking down the other vehicles license plate, the driver takes off, driving directly into the man, who is promptly thrown onto her hood. And while he's holding on for dear life, this crazy fucker continues to drive down the street. Ah, here's the video. There need to be driving license death sentences for these assholes.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:19 AM on September 1, 2009


> "Not a single one of them wears a helmet"
> "no helmet or anything"

Without getting into social factors or causality vs. correlation, I'd like to point out that in cities where the helmet-wearing rate is lower (e.g. Amsterdam or Copenhagen, both about 0%) the per capita accident rate is far lower, and the bike usage is far higher.

But if you remain in favour of bicycle helmets, why not mandate them equally for pedestrians where they would surely save many lives? parodied here.
posted by stepheno at 10:20 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


As a driver, I really don't want to hit any cyclists. It would absolutely ruin my day/week/life to hit and injure or kill a cyclist. That's why I pass them safely, with a wide berth, and generally watch out for them, especially at intersections.
That's also why it bothers me so much when they run red lights/stop signs or ride through crosswalks from the sidewalk at full speed. There's very little I can do to account for this as a driver, no matter how attentive and respectful I try to be. It makes it extremely hard for me to avoid indirectly causing a death someday. Please, I implore all you cyclists, stop doing this.
As a cyclist, I learn from my driving encounters how to ride a bike properly. It's not hard and it's worth it for everyone on the road.

There's too little information to pass judgment on either side in this particular incident. Condolences to the friends and family of the cyclist, and I hope the truth comes out and justice is served. I also hope Critical Mass or other anti-car groups don't take advantage of this situation for their own political ends.
posted by rocket88 at 10:21 AM on September 1, 2009


Wow. Yeah. I'm not saying the guy in the car was in the right -- he should have just stopped the fucking car! -- but if this is true, then the cyclist pretty much put himself in harm's way.

Any chance that the backpack got hooked onto a mirror or something and the cyclist couldn't release? Isn't it a little soon to assert this is somehow all the biker's fault?
posted by mazola at 10:21 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


a lawless cyclist will kill themselves
a lawless motorist will kill others


As a pedestrian who has nearly been repeatedly almost struck by bicycles who weren't obeting the law, I find this attitude terrifying.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:22 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Sun article has some additional details, like that it wasn't a hit-and-run:
Burrows confirmed that alcohol did not play a factor in the incident and Bryant is not subject to charges for leaving the scene of a collision. "We can confirm that one of the many 911 calls we received was from the (man in custody,)" Burrows said.
posted by smackfu at 10:23 AM on September 1, 2009


Cyclists who wear protective helmets are more likely to be knocked down by passing vehicles, new research from Bath University suggests.
posted by lacus at 10:25 AM on September 1, 2009


Mister_A: "...instead of riding in the unmarked bike lane he is riding out into what is clearly car territory.
Is this satire? Or the other thing–whatchacallit–idiocy.
"

It's a description of a street, where some hipster douche bag was, I'm pretty sure, displaying idiocy. It may have been satirical but if so it failed, and was just idiocy.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:26 AM on September 1, 2009


If I have learned one thing from this thread, it is that I am never going to ride a bike on friggin' Davenport.

I can't help wondering why this guy slammed his backpack on to the hood of the car and grabbed the mirror. In my mind, the only way I could picture this happening is if the bike is going along at a good clip and the car stopped suddenly right in front of it, and the cyclist dropped the backpack and held on to the mirror literally so that he wouldn't fall off of his (suddenly) stopped bike.

But I have no knowledge at all of whether this is actually how it happened.

Let's say it didn't, and the cyclist made a sorta dickish move there.

No matter what, going down the WRONG SIDE OF THE STREET at HIGH SPEED, DRAGGING SOMEONE ON FOOT with your car is the height of dickishness.

As in, murderously so.
posted by misha at 10:27 AM on September 1, 2009


No, weston, it's not abdication of responsibility and a "fuck them" attitude, not exactly.

Those words are directly in his post and in yours. It's language that basically implies utter disregard other people. Do you mean it?

If what's meant is "I'm happy to defer to other vehicles on the road sometimes, except when it means a threat to my safety, which I reserve a right to look out for" it's probably better for the purposes of discussion if you say that instead of "fuck 'em."

He's saying that when "responsibility" and "consideration" mean "put yourself at greater risk by moving over"

As I said in my posts above, I agree that cyclists are at a greater risk and have to operate more defensively, and I don't believe anything I've said can be construed as suggesting they should sacrifice their safety. But nobody in traffic, no matter what their vehicle, has a right to a "fuck 'em" attitude.
posted by weston at 10:27 AM on September 1, 2009


This is irrelevant. The cyclist was rammed into a mailbox.

The cyclist in question was battered by the driver deliberately pulling into immovable objects. The cyclist was then pulled underneath the automobile and crushed to death.

And most of the comments in this thread talk about other cyclists being at fault for this man's murder.

Disgusting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:29 AM on September 1, 2009 [16 favorites]


Stepheno - the transportation culture where I live is not even comparable to Copenhagen or Amsterdam. There they have miles of pedestrian-only or pedestrian favoured areas. Here we have none. There they have wide sidewalks and, in the city, the speed limit is only at max 35. Here most of our roads don't have wide sidewalks, they don't have pedestrian areas. The speed limit is usually 40 mph. I've said it once and I'll say it again. If I get tapped by a car going 45 mph I have a good chance of dying. The helmet will greatly reduce that chance.
posted by cyphill at 10:31 AM on September 1, 2009


So the cyclist was asking for it? Just checking that we're all still on message here.
so vorfeed, we get in an argument and you pull out a gun and blow me away ...

I don't think Vorfeed was saying the cyclist was "asking for it," just like I wasn't saying he was "asking for it" when I noted somewhere above that it was "unwise" to grab onto a moving vehicle.

The accounts that keep emerging paint the picture of a cyclist (or cyclist-turned-pedestrian) who was, for whatever reason, holding on by his own free will at least for part of the ride. I can only assume that he was counting on the nutcase who was driving the car to stop. Remarking on the ill-wisdom of that decision does NOT logically lead to the conclusion that he was asking for death. But it's certainly a pertinent remark in light of the conversation in this thread -- which has become a discussion of the ways that reckless drivers endanger responsible cyclists, and vice-versa. Neither the driver NOR the cyclist in this episode seem to have been exhibiting responsible behavior -- unless you think it's responsible behavior to grab on to a moving vehicle being driven by an angry screaming nutcase.
posted by artemisia at 10:31 AM on September 1, 2009


Riding a bicycle has made me a much more attentive and courteous driver. Riding a motorcycle had the same effect on my driving.

that being said, it saddens me each time I hear of another cyclist killed - Minneapolis has had it's fair share of deaths this year- and there continues to be growing animosity between auto & bicycle cultures - all this in a town known for it's progressive attitude toward cycling.
posted by djseafood at 10:31 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the Globe Article:

“Different decisions on either part would have led to such different outcomes,” one collision reconstruction unit officer said. “It's just so bizarre.”

Sadly, this is reading more and more to me like a standard road rage incident gone horribly wrong. One man dead, another man's life ruined over an initially minor traffic incident in which no one was hurt (not seriously anyway).

All this talk of "bikers vs drivers" then becomes a major sidetrack (which I'm guilty of partaking in). Not because better traffic behavior from the biker (or the driver) wouldn't have averted the tragedy (it would have), but because the tragedy happened because at least one of the men involved, probably both, f***ing lost it. That the survivor of the incident is the former Attorney General of one of the "nicest" political entities on the entire planet (the province of Ontario) just makes the whole thing weirder and more acute.

What the f*** is it with road rage?
posted by philip-random at 10:31 AM on September 1, 2009


"And most of the comments in this thread talk about other cyclists being at fault for this man's murder."

I don't know what thread you're reading, but most of the comments in this thread aren't even talking about this man's death at all.
posted by ODiV at 10:32 AM on September 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


The cyclist was then pulled underneath the automobile and crushed to death.

But he's not just some cyclist. He and the driver had a discussion prior to the murder. That he was on a bike may very well be tangential to this entire affair. It's really difficult to tell with the given information.
posted by GuyZero at 10:32 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


No matter what, going down the WRONG SIDE OF THE STREET at HIGH SPEED, DRAGGING SOMEONE ON FOOT with your car is the height of dickishness.

Keep in mind that this whole incident took place over 100 meters. I'm not sure how high-speed it was.
posted by smackfu at 10:33 AM on September 1, 2009


As one who bikes for his daily commute, I am constantly irritated and sometimes shocked by the lawlessness and idiocy of my fellow cyclists.


Ditto again. A bike commuter myself, just because you bike doesn't mean you are exempt from all traffic laws and able to recklessly rage at everyone in a car. There are many laws I think are horrid and pointless - traffic laws are not among them.

Then again, they were both pretty nuts.

There's often talk about the antagonism between cyclists and drivers here in Portland. For the most part there isn't any. Most people know now to share the road. Most people are careful and respectful.

This is just so, so very needlessly tragic.

.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:34 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Without getting into social factors or causality vs. correlation, I'd like to point out that in cities where the helmet-wearing rate is lower (e.g. Amsterdam or Copenhagen, both about 0%) the per capita accident rate is far lower, and the bike usage is far higher. - Stepheno

Ahh, that's just it, though, Stepheno. You have to look at "social factors" when you make these comparisons. Amsterdam and Copenhagen not only have fewer cars per capita, and more bicyclists, than your typical American city, they also have dedicated, physically discrete bike lanes that are just for bikes. And in those cities, you, as a cyclist, obey the traffic signals and sign, or you get a citation (the bad kind). Run the embedded video in the Copenhagen link to get an idea of Copenhagen rush hour. Now compare to a US city. Or London even. If I had my own little road like that, I'd retire my helmet and my rage gland, too.
posted by Mister_A at 10:39 AM on September 1, 2009


so vorfeed, we get in an argument and you pull out a gun and blow me away ...

I guess I share in the responsibility?


This isn't a particularly apt analogy. You might be able to make it close by threatening vorfeed, slamming your backpack into him, and then after he pulls the gun, grabbing it and pointing it towards you while you're struggling. If he pulls the trigger while that's happening, it's probably still a serious crime, but it doesn't mean you wouldn't share some responsibility in what happened.

Similarly, there are points in the whole case where it looks like both people unnecessarily escalated a conflict to the point where it ended in Sheppard's death, but manslaughter charges are probably appropriate for Bryant.
posted by weston at 10:40 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that most of the posts here are from cyclists who are trying to figure out how to stay alive on the streets.
posted by No Robots at 10:41 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


who was, for whatever reason, holding on by his own free will

I seriously doubt that, the car was reported to have 'peeled out' probably causing a fearful grip.

but, then again, I doubt Free will.
posted by lacus at 10:42 AM on September 1, 2009


We all have no idea, really. We have notoriously unreliable eyewitness statements, and vague police statements. Speculating based on that is just pointless.
posted by smackfu at 10:43 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


As one who bikes for his daily commute, I am constantly irritated and sometimes shocked by the lawlessness and idiocy of my fellow cyclists.

As one who bikes, rides a motorcycle and drives for his daily commute (depending on the day), I am constantly irritated and sometimes shocked by the lawlessness and idiocy of my fellow cyclists and drivers (sometimes the motorcyclists, too, but not nearly as often for some reason.)

As for the whole "bikes shouldn't follow the same rules" thing, for the moment the law says they must, and so they should. Get the laws changed, and then they can do that different thing the law allows. In the meantime, the laws represent the rules that other pedestrians, cyclists and drivers are expecting you to follow, and accidents typically happen when one person wasn't following the rules, and someone else assumed they were going to or didn't anticipate the way they were going to break the law. After all, being a pedestrian or any type of vehicle in traffic is hard, and takes a lot of attention -- if everybody obeys the law, there's a finite limit to the things that need to be anticipated, but you can't anticipate unlimited number of ways laws can be broken.

In short, it's not about the law per se; the law just institutionalizes expected behavior into a set of behaviors that can be expected and anticipated in the majority of cases. We have to be predictable, each and every one of us, for this whole thing to work
posted by davejay at 10:43 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


You might be able to make it close by threatening vorfeed, slamming your backpack into him, and then after he pulls the gun, grabbing it and pointing it towards you while you're struggling. If he pulls the trigger while that's happening

yeah right. you really are stretching it to put blame on the biker.
posted by lacus at 10:44 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind that this whole incident took place over 100 meters. I'm not sure how high-speed it was.

The second witness in the linked Globe video estimated the speed of dragging at 90 kilometers an hour.
posted by kaspen at 10:45 AM on September 1, 2009


Think of it as evolution in action.
posted by Bruce H. at 10:47 AM on September 1, 2009


I feel fully justified in ignoring laws that endanger me.
posted by lacus at 10:47 AM on September 1, 2009


If I had my own little road like that, I'd retire my helmet and my rage gland, too.

Exactly the point. So what's it going to take and how many have to die before we get safe roads?
posted by kaspen at 10:48 AM on September 1, 2009


Think of it as evolution in action.

What the fuck?
posted by ODiV at 10:48 AM on September 1, 2009


if running red lights is dangerous then certainly there would be less red light running, an evolutionary sorting algorithm that would punish transgressors.

yet the act in gaining popularity.
posted by lacus at 10:50 AM on September 1, 2009


the incident last night sounds extremely fucked up and probably has less relevance to a general debate on the place of bikes on our roads.

Seriously. Everybody's all ready to go "cars!" vs, "bikes!" when this story is really not about the cars-bikes dynamic. The victim could have just as easily been a pedestrian, I think.

1. Jackoff driver accidentally hits dude with no critical results (i.e. scratches/bruises)
2. Dude goes a little apeshit and slams his backpack on the hood (hey, who hasn't?)
3. Driver ups the ante with some sort of verbal/physical assault then starts to drive away
4. Dude says "nuh-uh, no way" and grabs onto the car door
5. Driver re-raises by smashing dude into various objects on the sidewalk.

Fucked. Up. (I was just thinking this morning, "Why does everyone look so serious and/or angry on their commute?" Some people sure got issues...)

*** Lesson for cyclists: If you're going to go apeshit, do it quickly and then leave. Bust his brake light with your u-lock, then take off quickly in a direction he can't follow. He's driving a murder weapon, and who knows if he has a gun or other weapon in the car.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:50 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I used extreme examples with Amsterdam and Copenhagen, but the public health benefits of bicycle helmets are suspect indeed. Western Australia—with an infrastructure much like USA—made bike helmets mandatory and the results were not pretty: more injuries, less people cycling.

I can't wait for the oil to run out.
posted by stepheno at 10:50 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


a key mounted into a bicycle grip makes a great reminder to cars not to get to close.
posted by lacus at 10:53 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Keep in mind that this whole incident took place over 100 meters. I'm not sure how high-speed it was.

In the video one eyewitness estimates the car's speed at '90'. Since this is Canada he means 90 km/h, or around 65 mph.

Here's my guess at what happened, having been involved in similar situations in Toronto and other cities (as a cyclist).

1. Driver cuts off cyclist and possibly hits him. Cyclist could have been equally in wrong, who knows?

2. Cyclist reacts angrily, slamming backpack on hood. (I don't know if you've ever been hit by a car while on a bike but it's very frightening and gets the adrenaline flooding through you. Slamming the hood is a very instinctive thing to do to get a driver's attention, as is yelling at them at the top of your lungs). You may think this is a dumb thing to do but, at worst it's criminal damage.

3. Driver and cyclist get into yelling match. Cyclist grabs car, either to stay upright on bike, or because that's how he got cut off, or in attempt to stop car driving away. Driver says 'get the fuck off my car' (which is what they always say). Cyclist doesn't. Driver drives off. At this point, unless he is unaware that the cyclist is holding on, he has turned the incident into a hit and run by leaving the scene of an accident, and is also recklessly endangering the life of the cyclist.

4. Cyclist hangs on, initially out of dumb perseverance, but at some point car is going so fast that letting go is a worse option than hanging on. Driver loses it and tries to sideswipe cyclist off on mailboxes etc. At this point it looks like vehicular homicide to me.

But yeah, the cyclist totally put himself in harms way. *facepalm*
posted by unSane at 10:55 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think motorists and cyclists both have large irresponsible jerk constituencies.
Because both groups tend to be made up of, y'know, people.

Now that that's settled, right now this sounds more like a horrible and unfortunate accident that is tangentially related to cycling.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:57 AM on September 1, 2009


let's face it, a bike occupies a certain moral high ground over a car.

a fact that enrages drivers.
posted by lacus at 11:01 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


wow i was biking back home down that exact route exactly 2 hours before the incident...
posted by spacediver at 11:01 AM on September 1, 2009


It seems to me that most of the posts here are from cyclists who are trying to figure out how to stay alive on the streets.

Previously.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:02 AM on September 1, 2009


let's face it, a bike occupies a certain moral high ground over a car.

This attitude has created more obnoxious bicyclists than safe ones.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:05 AM on September 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


yeah right. you really are stretching it to put blame on the biker.

You decided the best analogy for the incident described in the article was one person arbitrarily pulling a gun on someone during and argument and immediately unloading into them with no further contact, and you're accusing me of stretching it?

Considering the lack of any subtlety or insight demonstrated through the rest of your single-minded comments sprinkled throughout the thread, I suppose that's actually believable.
posted by weston at 11:07 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Iacus, you're so rad.
posted by Mister_A at 11:07 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


the kicker is Astro Zombie even the most obnoxious biker is less obnoxious then the obscenity of a car.
posted by lacus at 11:08 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


So what's it going to take and how many have to die before we get safe roads?

Hey man, it only took 20 years, but we finally got about ONE FUCKING MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS in the Bicycle Commuter Act here in the US of A. Wa-hoo! Twenty bucks a month tax break for riding your bike to work. Sounds great until you see the breaks public transit and (groan) drivers are getting.
posted by Mister_A at 11:09 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can totally sympathize with the hitting the car with his backpack thing. The car had just hit his bike! When you are a bicycle in traffic with 2000 pound speeding weapon machines, the slightest recklessness on their part is game over for you. If a car endangers my life, I am going to damage that car, it's a simple equation. Clearly this cyclist was concerned about his own well-being and that's what got him in to an altercation that cost him his life. Turns out surviving the battle is more important than winning the war. Ride safe out there everyone, the most important thing isn't saving face or teaching individual drivers a lesson, it's policy decisions at every level of government that have to be fought for and will make all the difference.
posted by kaspen at 11:09 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


As a cyclist who lives in horror of inattentive downtown jay walkers, I give a huge fuck, because that pedestrian could kill both of us.

And pedestrians don't give a damn, either. You'll ring your bell and yell at them but they just keep walking in front of your path, oblivious. If it was a car coming towards them, they wouldn't feign deafness.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:10 AM on September 1, 2009


Goddamn. What happened in the last twenty years?

I used to be a constant biker up to about 22, and it was pretty straightforward. You rode on the right, you let cars pass, you stayed out of trouble. While you had the same right of way as cars, you didn't use it unless you really needed it. You stayed out of the way of the 2 ton moving vehicles with your twenty pounds of aluminum. And if you really did need to use your right-of-way, you signaled clearly, and cars would usually make room. Occasionally they wouldn't see you, and you'd wait for the next opening.

The whole attitude in this thread seems to be, "Goddammit, we are not inferior", but that's nonsense. Like it or not, you are inferior. Where we were on twenty pounds of aluminum, you're on 10 pounds of carbon fiber. You're freaking naked out there, tiny and hard to see, and you're moving way, way faster than pedestrians. What held true when I was young holds true now; don't fuck with the two ton vehicles. This thread is just loaded with passive aggressiveness, which is a very dumb thing when you're that much smaller. You are not equal to a car, and you never will be. Demanding that you be treated that way is a form of violence, putting other people in a position where they're forced to choose between "respecting your opinions" and hurting or killing you. That's incredibly disrespectful.

You know, I've always made room for bikes when I could. I've always been of the opinion that we're all on the same side, and we're trying to cooperate to get to our respective destinations safely. And I don't remember being significantly irritated by a bicyclist in many years, if ever. Hell, sometimes I'm a little envious, because they can move so fast in tight traffic conditions.

But this thread, wow. This equal treatment nonsense is exactly that, nonsense. You are inferior on the road, whether you like it or not, and continued insistence otherwise will get you hurt or killed. If you tangle with a car, you will lose. You're being persecuted by physics. Deal with it.

This also holds true for motorcycles, by the way, and small cars dealing with big trucks. Whether or not human law treats you equally, the laws of physics do not bend.
posted by Malor at 11:10 AM on September 1, 2009 [16 favorites]


As a pedestrian, one of the single biggest pet peeves I have is bicyclists on the sidewalk. A bicycle is a vehicle and thus belongs in the street (if you're not 14 and under in NYC). Yes, drivers can be asses, and I've encountered many of those too, but it doesn't give you the right to drive your vehicle on the sidewalk, which is there as a safe area for foot traffic.

Take the bus or walk if you can't take riding in the street, sorry.

I can't count the number of times I've been nearly hit by people on bikes whizzing by on the sidewalk behind or in front of me.

When I'm walking down the street, I keep vigilant and stay to the right and generally know what's around me, but sometimes people don't walk in an exact straight line or move to accommodate someone else and bam, a bike will just come speeding down from behind.

It's not an unreasonable expectation to walk on the sidewalk without someone driving on it. The NYPD really needs to enforce the laws on bikes here. They are a great alternative and cost effective, but sidewalks are for walking. And if you're riding on the sidewalk, you're endangering people, plain and simple.

Even if you're the best cyclist in the world, people don't come with rearview mirrors and most bikes don't have horns or other signals to let you know to get out of the way.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:10 AM on September 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Jesus. I work in a store along that strip and was wondering what all the sirens were about. As a Toronto cyclist who rides on that stretch all the time, I'm horrified.

Oddly enough, I've found Toronto to be a safer biking city than the mid-sized cities I grew up in. The people there drive just as badly as Torontonians, but the reduced traffic means they do it even faster, and there were far fewer bike lanes and such amenities. My only bad experience with a car was as a pedestrian; a taxi ran over my foot as it did a rolling right turn through my crosswalk (attendees of the TO meetup might remember my two-broken-toes limp).

Still, holy crap does something ever need to be done.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 11:10 AM on September 1, 2009


Demanding that you be treated that way is a form of violence, putting other people in a position where they're forced to choose between "respecting your opinions" and hurting or killing you.

That's ridiculous. It's not a choice between "respecting my opinion" and "killing me." It's more like a choice between "waiting til it's safe to pass—even if that means a 3-sec. delay in your trip to the GODDAMN FUCKING RED LIGHT—and "intimidating, harassing, throwing bottles, and other dangerous ass-hattery" directed at cyclists.
posted by Mister_A at 11:15 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh and as for this particular cyclist's death, it sounds like adrenaline all around and a lot of rage in speeding into objects to get him to fly off the car. Terrible incident, and right to at least bring this to court.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:17 AM on September 1, 2009


If a car endangers my life, I am going to damage that car, it's a simple equation.

teaching individual drivers a lesson

No wonder drivers hate you. That's reprehensible.
posted by Malor at 11:17 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Malor, I'm meaner, smarter, tougher, stronger, and faster than you so I guess if you cross my path you've earned what's coming. Is that the world you want to live in? Is it OK for me to go around kicking the crap out of people because I can? Seriously man, is it OK for me to take your lunch money because I'm a bad motherfucker and can get away with it? What the fuck man?
posted by Mister_A at 11:20 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I work about two blocks away from the scene, and I should also say that the stretch of Bloor in question is a fucking mess. There is major road construction going on, and traffic is down to one very narrow lane in either direction. The placement of lanes at intersections changes frequently, and the road surface is shockingly bad. People seem to get frustrated at the delays and drive aggressively, or make stupid moves like random u-turns and such (cabbies are especially bad here). I don't actually consider that area to be safe for cycling, and this is from someone who rode up to Kleinburg on Sunday.

If you're biking home tonight, be safe and keep your head on a swivel.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:21 AM on September 1, 2009


Dude, no matter what, physics will not change.
posted by Malor at 11:22 AM on September 1, 2009


Dude, have you ever ridden a bike? In the US of A? I'm not talking about lightning strikes and tornadoes, I'm talking about drivers cutting cyclists off, throwing stuff at them, yelling at them to get off the road, grabbing onto them, etc. I'm not talking about unavoidable events, I'm talking about most drivers existing on a continuum between cluelessness and active hostility toward cyclists. You are talking out of your ass. Dude.
posted by Mister_A at 11:25 AM on September 1, 2009


No wonder drivers hate you. That's reprehensible.

I was only saying I sympathize with his logic. I have never deliberately inflicted damage on a vehicle, and I've never found myself forced to. I find your callous disregard for the lives of cyclists who are simply trying to perform a necessary commute from A to B equally reprehensible. Tough shit is not an acceptable answer, you can talk of laws of physics but the only relevant law here is that of man, which states that bikes and cars are legally equivalent rights and responsibilities, at least in this incident and where I live.
posted by kaspen at 11:26 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


so vorfeed, we get in an argument and you pull out a gun and blow me away ...

I guess I share in the responsibility?


Like I said, the driver is pretty clearly responsible for this death, but it does take two to have an argument, and in this case, it does seem to have taken two to escalate this from a minor argument to a hands-on confrontation. Had the cyclist let the car go and walked away, this would have been, at worst, something to gripe about back at the shop. He didn't. Now he's dead. Like it or not, he does hold the responsibility for the decision to make this physical, because he's the one who made it (assuming that the witness reports are correct).

Likewise, the driver could have stopped the car. He didn't. Now he's a killer. Funny how reality (or, as Malor put it, physics) isn't very forgiving toward momentary irrational rage, on either side of this equation...

yeah right. you really are stretching it to put blame on the biker.

Again, it's not "blame", it's the reality of what can happen when you put yourself in certain situations. You know what? A lot of road rage incidents do end in somebody getting shot. A lot of them do end with somebody getting run over, beat down, or otherwise badly hurt. This is why, if you don't want to be shot, beat down, or run over, you don't take aggressive and potentially dangerous actions like grabbing somebody's car during an argument. That goes whether you're on a bike or not, and it still applies no matter how angry you are, and no matter how in-the-right you may be.

In life, there are no take-backs, and you can't control the behavior of the other guy.
posted by vorfeed at 11:26 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Analogy: If you shoot a gun just to the side of my head, or are using a chainsaw as a lance dangerously close to me, I am going to punch you in the face. Simple math.
posted by kaspen at 11:29 AM on September 1, 2009


I could add my own anecdotes about bad cyclists and bad drivers, or my own who's-to-blame argument, but I'd just like to link y'all to John Forester's site. Agree with him or not, he's at least got some solid facts and thinking behind his views.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:29 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


But he's not just some cyclist. He and the driver had a discussion prior to the murder. That he was on a bike may very well be tangential to this entire affair. It's really difficult to tell with the given information.

If it turns out that he was deliberately holding onto the car, this is less a case of murder/manslaughter and more of a really stupid game of chicken.
posted by emeiji at 11:31 AM on September 1, 2009


From the Traffic Services press conference just broadcast on the radio: there have been two charges laid against Bryant.

- Criminal negligence causing death
- Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death

Bryant will appear in court on Monday, October 19 at 3 PM.

Tim Burrows of Traffic Services summarizes Monday's night events: at about 9:45 PM, there was a minor collision. Cyclist approached and grabbed vehicle. Driver drove off, cyclist held on to the car as it continued across Bloor, and was basically a pedestrian at this point, until he fell off the car and was struck.

Bryant has been released, but Burrows says it is not special treatment. Investigation will continue, there may be further charges, but this is it for now. No, alcohol was not involved.

Previously, Bryant made a short statement to the press, expressing sorrow for the cyclist's death and asking for privacy for his (Bryant's) family.
posted by maudlin at 11:32 AM on September 1, 2009


the kicker is Astro Zombie even the most obnoxious biker is less obnoxious then the obscenity of a car.

This is performance art, right? Fine trollery?
posted by weston at 11:33 AM on September 1, 2009


Cars and the danger they pose most certainly meet certain definitions of obscene: "4. So large in amount as to be objectionable or outrageous".
posted by kaspen at 11:36 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Darcy Allen Sheppard was engaged in some community activism when some psycho shot him dead.
posted by lacus at 11:37 AM on September 1, 2009


Alcohol is not thought to be a factor, police say.

The officer declined to speculate on the vast quantity of testosterone found at the scene.
posted by fish tick at 11:39 AM on September 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Being a cyclist involved in a collision (even a minor one) with a car is a scary thing. It definitely raises the adrenaline and can cause one to engage in reckless behaviour they wouldn't otherwise even think of.
Being a motorist and having someone attack your car and make gestures that appear they are trying to physically attack your person is a scary thing. It definitely raises the adrenaline and can cause one to engage in reckless behaviour they wouldn't otherwise even think of.

I've had both happen to me. I think a little understanding for both sides is in order here.
posted by rocket88 at 11:44 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


On the subject of this particular incident, there are a few things (besides the thud of flesh on steel) that are making it a huge clusterfuck of a news story in Toronto.

1) The driver is the former provincial Attorney-General who enacted new tougher "Street Racing" laws that allow guilty-until-proven-innocent vehicle impounding, fining, and life-in-prison maximum sentences. Irony meter, pegged.

2) The driver is married, but had a young woman in the car with him who did not stay to be interviewed by police. No, the cyclist was not sleeping with the driver's wife.

3) The incident happened on the most significant east-west thoroughfare in the city, which was identified by city planners as a crucial street for bike lanes in 1991. No cycling infrastructure improvements have been made, despite multi-million dollar renovations of the street in the area of the fatality. Previous cyclist deaths on Bloor have been martyred.
posted by anthill at 11:48 AM on September 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


I should also point out that this event almost surely was murder pure and simple, but he's getting of easy out of professional courtesy.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:49 AM on September 1, 2009


I'll tell you the scariest experience I had on a bike recently. I was going down a long, moderate incline at close to 40 MPH, when a car appears in my hip pocket without warning or sound! It was a Prius. Even at that speed, the things don't make enough noise to be heard over the wind in my ears. It was very freaky! Made me appreciate the "electric cars are dangerously quiet" viewpoint that I'd earlier dismissed.
posted by Mister_A at 11:49 AM on September 1, 2009


This is not meant to address the particular incident in Canada which I was not there to witness.

I think the largest part of the problem on roadways in the "Western world" is the overweening sense of entitlement with which a large number of travelers take to the road, regardless of mode of conveyance.

Unfortunately, when travel is reduced to a battle of wills, it's the cyclists who lose. I don't really hold out much hope for society en masse getting over its sense of entitlement either way, but I do my part.

I don't ride a bicycle, but a large number of people in my town do, and I go far out of my way to give bikes more room than necessary, and I yield to them in ALL situations, period. The funny part is when this results in visible derision on the part of the cyclists I'm trying to abundantly avoid, like they assume I'm trying to make some sort of point. That's not meant as a generalization about cyclists at all -- plenty of them -- the vast majority I'd say -- are courteous and respectful of laws & right-of-way, even when they execute rolling stops, which on many occasions seem perfectly legit. But just like drivers who have an angry ownership of all they survey, there are cyclists who exhibit poor anger control on roadways. I've been glared at, yelled at and flipped off several times by cyclists despite being nowhere near their bikes, and while taking pains to avoid being near them. Dude. I just don't want to hurt you.

I'm just as dismayed by drivers who drive SUVs with the same sense of entitlement, like talking on the phone on the freeway, using the "newer car goes first" rule at 4-way stops, turning left from the right-hand lane, playing follow-the-leader through dark orange left turn lights, or what have you.

The problem with entitlement is a simple one -- cyclists are squishy and soft, and cars are unyieldingly metal and deadly. Hopefully the patchwork & halting efforts of cities to accommodate cyclists will eventually reach some sort of tipping point where it falls together. Until then, us car drivers need to get the fuck over ourselves and give them the space to be safe. It'd be nice if the asshole cyclists could get the fuck over themselves too, but they're not likely to kill us because of their attitude, so I think the onus is on us car-people.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:49 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


... throwing stuff at them, yelling at them to get off the road ...

My favorite are lit cigarettes. "Aw, thanks, but I just quit."

The engineering articles on that John Forester site are cool. Thanks.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:51 AM on September 1, 2009


Goddamn. What happened in the last twenty years?

The last twenty years, I guess.
posted by regicide is good for you at 11:52 AM on September 1, 2009


A murder charge will almost surely result in an acquittal pure and simple, since intent is extremely hard to prove beyond reasonable doubt. The charges levied are 100% standard for this type of incident, no matter who you are.
posted by rocket88 at 11:53 AM on September 1, 2009


Made me appreciate the "electric cars are dangerously quiet" viewpoint that I'd earlier dismissed.

Also perfect for drive-by shootings (via U-Turn) ... "hands-free!"
posted by mrgrimm at 11:54 AM on September 1, 2009


I cut off a bike once taking a blind right hand turn and the biker caught up with me mad as hell and I was, man I am so sorry. are you OK? did I damage anything? can I pay for it?

and the biker calmed down just a bit and said, I just want you know you almost killed me and be more careful. he left mad still. but I understood.

as a driver of a motor vehicle you have a responsibility to pay attention; every car is potentially a killing machine.
posted by lacus at 11:54 AM on September 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


Yes, IANAC but I agree with rocket88's assessment.
posted by Mister_A at 11:54 AM on September 1, 2009


Being a motorist and having someone attack your car and make gestures that appear they are trying to physically attack your person is a scary thing. It definitely raises the adrenaline and can cause one to engage in reckless behaviour they wouldn't otherwise even think of.

I second this as someone who has been on both sides. Adrenaline can do strange things and make you lose all perspective. I have railed at car drivers as idiots while on my bike and at bicyclists while in my car, and each time is preceded by a flush of adrenaline as the acute possibility of carnage raises it's ugly head. Better awareness on both sides is necessary, especially in US where physical accommodations for cyclists are abysmal.

I think some cyclists ride quite aggressively, in ways that would make me feel imperiled as a cyclist, perhaps in the belief (perhaps rightly; a study would be interesting) that this makes them more visible and actually less likely to be hurt. On the other hand, a cyclist was killed in Minneapolis recently by a semi turning right and squashing the cyclist who, I surmise from the newspaper description, wasn't giving it all that wide a berth. So the potential of aggressive riding to work both ways is there.

As I've mentioned before, I would love to commute by bike, but given the reality of a 3- to 5-fold increased fatality rate per mile compared to automobiles, I can't justify it at this point. On the other hand, in more advanced countries (= those with higher bicycle ridership), the rates are similar and low, so I know it can be done. I just don't want to be in the vanguard.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:56 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


you have to be aggressive as a biker, especially in an urban core.

passivity equals injury.

you have to know the behavior of cars, know when to blow through intersections, if you wait, follow the rules, your fate is dictated to you- and that is a scary thing.

also you have to help raise consciousness; failure to get angry at a dangerous motorist might cause the death of another biker.

anger equals visibility.
posted by lacus at 12:09 PM on September 1, 2009


Based on how much witness testimony is available, I can't see why a manslaughter charge would not be viable. He may regret his actions now, but it certainly seems like the driver intentionally killed the cyclist in a fit of rage. It's not reasonable to think that running a person into a lamp post (or perhaps a tree) then a post box at very high speed is unlikely to kill them.

This man needs to go to jail for a long, long time.
posted by bonehead at 12:10 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I always think it would be cool to have sound packages for electric cars, why can't my Prius sound like a lamborghini or a souped up rice burner on demand.
posted by lacus at 12:12 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Iacus, let's never go for a bike ride together, OK?
posted by Mister_A at 12:13 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great point, MW. I personally notice that when I drive I naturally become more of an aggressive person and have to check my behavior. There is a similar "argh, fucking drivers!" mentality when I bike, but I think the fresh air and exercise alleviate it.

But by default, I am more of an asshole when I am driving, and I think that applies to most people. Perhaps the medium is the message here: cars are inherently evil....

Oh, huzzah. I found it online (great book review, btw):

"Is the motorcar evil? Of course not, because it can have no intentions, no interior life, nurse no resentments, and harbor no malice. In daily life it has become commoner than the cold. In the moral realm the auto lacks pizzazz. It is merely an instrument of evil, rippling or killing thousands every year, consuming many of the resources of the earth, eviscerating cities as routinely as butchers their beef, poisoning the atmosphere, fostering illusions of equality and dominion, encouraging envy and macho competitions, facilitating adolescent fornication, and ravaging the countryside."

- "On Evil: The ragged core of a sweet apple," by William H. Gass, Harper's Magazine, January 2004
posted by mrgrimm at 12:14 PM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mister_A we'd have fun. come to Seattle for the next DBD.
posted by lacus at 12:17 PM on September 1, 2009


ah mrgrimm, but the car is cyborg. so is the bike. but the car is so phenomenally powerful it takes over the mind. the bike, on the other hand, accentuates the symbiotic relationship between man and machine.
posted by lacus at 12:21 PM on September 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Let me just say that I am finding lacus's comments to be increasingly bizarre.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:23 PM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


bonehead, I think that criminal negligence causing death pretty much is a manslaughter charge. Wikipedia seems to confirm that, criminal negligence basically being a "culpable homicide" without the intent of 1st or 2nd degree murder. (IANAL)
posted by carmen at 12:29 PM on September 1, 2009


a lawless cyclist will kill themselves

Actually, they will kill others. When you are racing along the footpath or through a red light at 30 km/h on a metal frame and slam into a pedestrian because you weren't paying attention, you can kill them. It happens.

It takes hard earned effort to get moving (particularly uphill) and as such, you don't want to just shut it down every two blocks or so because some city engineer stuck a sign at the side of the road.

Yeah, it's a bummer when I have to slow down my motorbike for lights, too. So?

Biker's aren't special. Drivers need to realize that bikers are people and have every much the same rights as they do. Both sides need to realize there are consequences for acting like idiots, disobeying laws and starting fights.

and

In short, it's not about the law per se; the law just institutionalizes expected behavior into a set of behaviors that can be expected and anticipated in the majority of cases. We have to be predictable, each and every one of us, for this whole thing to work

This.

It's simple really : If your vehicle even slightly impacts a significantly smaller vehicle, you should lose your license for 10+ years. SUV touches car, no more license. Car touches motorcycle, no more license. Motorcycle touches bike, no more license.

Cyclist touches pedestrian?


No matter what, going down the WRONG SIDE OF THE STREET at HIGH SPEED, DRAGGING SOMEONE ON FOOT with your car is the height of dickishness.


If you were a small woman driving a car and a large man grabbed it, after beating on it, would you wait to find out if he was going to pull you out of the car and beat you up, or would you drive off and let him take his chances?

(And no, I know perfectly well that's not the case here. But I can certainly see scenarios where a driver would be justified in driving off under such circumstances, although not into objects.)

*** Lesson for cyclists: If you're going to go apeshit, do it quickly and then leave. Bust his brake light with your u-lock, then take off quickly in a direction he can't follow. He's driving a murder weapon, and who knows if he has a gun or other weapon in the car.

Pity the next cyclist along the way has to deal with your queue of people who now have a really shitty attitude to cyclists based on your crappy beahviour. But, hey, you're OK, right?
posted by rodgerd at 12:32 PM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I guess this means that Michael Bryant will never become president of Canada.

But if he plays his cards right, he could still become one of their greatest senators of our times.
posted by sour cream at 12:33 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


sour cream, are you not ashamed of yourself for saying shit like that in public? Seriously.
posted by GuyZero at 12:34 PM on September 1, 2009


I yield to them in ALL situations, period.

Please stop.


As a cyclist, I appreciate your good thoughts and courtesy, but drivers that err on the side of "nice" with cyclists are just as bad as drivers that err on the side of aggressiveness. I mentioned a common circumstance above where I can't read a driver's intentions when they linger for me at a four-way stop, and an overcourteous driver removes the key element in cyclist safety: predictability.

The reasonable expectation of your future actions is what keeps me alive on the road. I need to know that the cars around me will behave in ways that cars should behave, and I try to return the favour by behaving the way a bike should behave. This means stopping at red lights, signalling my turns and lane changes, staying off the sidewalk (and under no circumstances hopping on and off the sidewalk), stopping with traffic at reds instead of scooting up beside the first car in line, and basically being predictable.

Having a car inexplicably grind to a halt so that I can swing out in an a turn around them, or pause in the middle of an intersection to give me the right-of-way out of turn, or slow to a near-halt behind me so I can make a left-lane change I've signalled is in many ways worse than dealing with standard traffic.

Let's take a lane change to the left as a f'rinstance of why "nice" drivers make me crazy.

If I were signalling a lane change while driving a car and you were riding my left flank and moving faster than me, you'd pass, and I'd evaluate the situation to see if I could then make my safe swing to the left. But when I'm on a bicycle, and I signal a left-hand lane change, and then you slow and hover ten feet behind me, I have no idea what the fuck is going on and it's terrifying. Are you letting me change lanes? Did you slow down to grab some chips out of a bag? Are you consulting your GPS or playing with your cell phone? I have no idea. So I can either roll the dice and change lanes, hoping that you've seen me and are being nice, or I can stick, waiting for you to pass me, until you get frustrated with this dickhole that isn't acknowledging your generous and good nature, and zoom on ahead...

...which will, inevitably, coincide with the moment that I finally decide that yes, you're letting me change lanes, and I'd better do it before a driver behind YOU starts freaking out and laying on the horn.

This happens constantly. It puts me in more danger, to be honest, than the drivers that are driving aggressively but consistently so. I know what an aggressive driver is going to do. I have no way of knowing what that arbitrarily slowing car is up to.

Don't be good. Be predictable. And demand the same behaviour from me.
posted by Shepherd at 12:35 PM on September 1, 2009 [32 favorites]


As a cyclist who lives in horror of inattentive downtown jay walkers, I give a huge fuck, because that pedestrian could kill both of us.

Use your eyes. Use your brakes. Use your bell/horn/voice.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:39 PM on September 1, 2009


lacus, I get the feeling you have a lot of growing up to do. Here's hoping that as a cyclist you survive long enough to do so.
posted by rocket88 at 12:40 PM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sys Rq, I use all three, which is why I and all those feckless pedestrians are still alive. I can still bitch about their stupidity here while acting like a responsible adult on the road -- and other cyclists can bitch about drivers' stupidity while being prudent, predictable and assertive, and drivers can bitch about cyclists' stupidity while being observant, predictable and not overly-chivalrous.
posted by maudlin at 12:44 PM on September 1, 2009


I've lived in Toronto for 17 years and never kept a bike here, because the idea of cycling in Toronto scares the crap out of me. I know cyclists who have been hit by cars multiple times. One guy I met had been hit three times and TWO of those times were hit and runs. And this thread is not helping. I'm especially not liking the remembrance that Micheal Bryant used to be MPP for the St. Paul's riding, where I used to live, because I think I may have voted for him.

I was almost crushed on my bike by a bus yesterday at about 6:45 on Davenport. The driver passed me and then pulled into the cycling lane, forcing me into a parked car. When I caught up to the driver, he of course blamed me and refused to surrender his badge number.

You should see the other guy, if you were to write to the TTC and include all the details of the incident (i.e., include the bus route number, direction of the bus, time of day, and physical description of the driver) they will probably be able to identify the driver.
posted by orange swan at 12:44 PM on September 1, 2009


If I were signalling a lane change while driving a car and you were riding my left flank and moving faster than me, you'd pass, and I'd evaluate the situation to see if I could then make my safe swing to the left. But when I'm on a bicycle, and I signal a left-hand lane change, and then you slow and hover ten feet behind me, I have no idea what the fuck is going on and it's terrifying.

If I'm in someone's blind spot, and they signal left, I pass them? Holy fucking christ, NO. And with a bike, where all you have is blind spot, and turning your head to check the left lane means swerving in front of my car? Yeah, excuse me for not hitting the accelerator.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:44 PM on September 1, 2009


thanks for your concern rocket88 but I have survived, longer then you may think.
posted by lacus at 12:48 PM on September 1, 2009


Think of it as evolution in action.

That's awfully digg of you.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:51 PM on September 1, 2009


Sys Rq,

I'm not sure what you mean here. On a bike, I have a greater field of vision than in a car, and I look left all the time without swerving in front of cars. If I'm far enough ahead of you I'm going to pull in front. If I'm next to you, or behind you, I'm going to pull in behind you. If you're in the right lane at an intersection, I'm going to pull up on your left, in case you want to turn. If I want to make a left at an intersection, I'm going to go to the far left and wait. I try to make these behaviors as consistent and predictable as possible for exactly the reasons that Shepherd suggests.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:56 PM on September 1, 2009


It takes hard earned effort to get moving (particularly uphill) and as such, you don't want to just shut it down every two blocks or so because some city engineer stuck a sign at the side of the road.

Yeah, it's a bummer when I have to slow down my motorbike for lights, too. So?


Lemme see. For you to stop, it requires a bit of wrist/hand exertion on the brake, some more on the clutch. Then you have to put your foot down. Then to start up again, you release the brake, shift the clutch, lift your foot and accelerate away. This is far different in terms of exertion from what a cyclist must do in the same circumstance.
posted by philip-random at 12:58 PM on September 1, 2009


And in cars, if you're currently in the act of passing me on the left when I hit my signal, and you're going faster than me, I'd hope you'd finish passing rather than panic and slam on the brakes.
posted by Shepherd at 1:01 PM on September 1, 2009


Don't be good. Be predictable.

Funny story. About a month ago I was going through a controlled intersection near my house that I've gone through at least 10,000 times in the last 20 years without incident. I go through with the right of way, as the cross street has a two-way stop on it. Now some folks on the perpendicular road roll up to the stop and sort of inch forward while they wait for me to clear the intersection, and I've become used to this behavior and sort of ignored it after the first 5,000 times. But this Thursday a woman was doing that exact thing when "Wham!", she accelerates into my rear axle and spins me around 200°, deploying my side air bags and causing US$7000 damage to my beautiful, pristine Honda Accord.

The point? "Predictability" actually hurt me here. By years of conditioning, I had extinguished a behavior at this intersection that I still practiced in every other situation and that is making sure I could tell what the intent of the other drivers is before preceding. By assuming that this person's behavior was predictable because it was consistent with everyone elses put me in harm's way. This event reminded me that I always need to look at the drivers' faces, see which way they are looking, anticipate that they will do something stupid and decide consciously if I am willing to take the risk.

But your point stands about other drivers: they need to act in a predictable manner and clearly signal their intentions to boot. Had all the other drivers not taught me that acting like you're raring to go isn't a signal that you intend to enter the intersection shortly, I would have avoided this accident.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:01 PM on September 1, 2009


As a cyclist who lives in horror of inattentive downtown jay walkers, I give a huge fuck, because that pedestrian could kill both of us.

In terms of all who use the road (and areas adjacent) I would rate them as follows in terms of attentiveness to EVERYTHING that's going on around them.

1. cyclists (most attentive by a country mile)
2. drivers
3. pedestrians (least attentive by a country mile)

Give any of these three groups a cellphone and you need a whole new list.
posted by philip-random at 1:03 PM on September 1, 2009


they will do something stupid

Whether at the wheel or on the handlebars, I always assume this about fellow road-users. It's served me well.
posted by Mister_A at 1:04 PM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I look left all the time without swerving in front of cars

Good for you. Unfortunately, there are a lot of inferior cyclists on the road. Until thewy're remotely "predictable," I'm going to err on the side of not squishing anyone.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:05 PM on September 1, 2009



If I had my own little road like that, I'd retire my helmet and my rage gland, too.

Exactly the point. So what's it going to take and how many have to die before we get safe roads?


Well the cost of widening so many roads is probably what's prohibitive. I imagine reworking the typical American city to be truly bike-friendly is pretty enormous. Then again, there's still plenty of unspent stimulus money, and one of the main goals of the stimulus package was to get Americans back to work while simultaneously promoting green initiatives, and I can think of few projects that would combine these two as successfully as 'bike-ifying' major American cities. So hey, write your congressperson.
posted by notswedish at 1:07 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


notswedish, the cost of doing them all at once would be high, but the way these things usually get done is to pilot in one or two cities, develop best practices for things like street selection, public consideration, city council approval (hint: suggest it will create jobs and/or revenue), and then roll out to other cities over time. The costs may appear large, but I'll bet you could add thousands of miles of dedicated bikeways to the eastern seaboard cities for the cost of a couple miles of light rail plus a few stations.

Not that I don't love me some light rail!
posted by Mister_A at 1:13 PM on September 1, 2009


This reminds me of an incident at the last critical mass ride in seattle, when some cyclists and a jeep got into it. It could have easily ended just as badly for everyone involved.

Righteousness does not trump physics. The law does not protect you so much as affords your estate a chance for justice. Small comfort to your mom.

I pedestriate along a mixed-use trail, and keep track of the percentage of cyclists that bother with obeying the law that says they should make an audible signal before passing pedestrians. One day it was as high as 50% law-abiding. For a sample size of two cyclists. Then another 8 bikes went past and put the percentage back in it's usual range of 10%. As a result, when it comes time to exit the path on the left, I always look behind me before I start to cross.

This isn't something that takes any real effort to accomplish, like stopping for a red light. If you don't want to spring for a bell, you just have to speak up. It seems odd to see someone putting out so much physical effort, yet be so lazy.

I wonder how often they yell at cars that 'bend' the law similarly to their annoyance. I suspect the hypocrisy escapes them.

Of course, when I'm on my scooter/motorcycle, the whole dynamic changes. I'm watching out for cars that will hear me blasting my horn, but since they can't spot me, just keep on coming over. And pedestrians/cyclists that assume since they can't hear my electric vehicle, it's safe to do some random crazy shit into my path without looking around first. Since I only have two hands, its often a quick decision, is there time to blip the horn, or should I just grab both brakes full on, and once I'm safe, start honking (or just let it go and thank lucky stars everyone's OK).

I personally find people yielding their rightful right-of-way worrisome. If people are going to be consistent and predictable, I'd prefer they did it by following the rules of the road.
posted by nomisxid at 1:16 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


how come none of these articles mentions that the driver was leaving the scene of the accident. do people not get charged with hit and run in toronto? also, wtf, why are his charges so light, he basically committed murder.
posted by mano at 1:18 PM on September 1, 2009


Also, I don't think you could widen the roads in most of the older cities (like Boston, Philly, and NYC). Instead, you have to remove something - a lane of traffic on a two-lane one-way street, for instance, or parking. That will irritate some people, no doubt. There are some major boulevards that seem pretty natural for things like this, eg the Ben Franklin Parkway and Broad Street in Philly. Interestingly, the latest bike lane proposal under consideration here involves Spruce and Pine streets; unfortunately, this will probably be only marginally more useful than the disastrous Chestnut Street bike/bus lane. Note that this is not a separate roadway, just markings. Vigorous enforcement would be needed or else people will be using the bike lane as a passing lane, increasing the danger to cyclists on those streets.
posted by Mister_A at 1:22 PM on September 1, 2009


also, to all the cyclist bashers out there, consider this:

if you muscle your car in on me as a cyclist, you are threatening my life. if i muscle my bike into your space as a motorist, i am posing no risk to you. there is a significant difference there. if you are going to threaten someones life you should not be surprised if you get a proportionate response.
posted by mano at 1:25 PM on September 1, 2009


how come none of these articles mentions that the driver was leaving the scene of the accident. do people not get charged with hit and run in toronto? also, wtf, why are his charges so light, he basically committed murder.

The driver of the car actually made one of the first 911 calls, according to an updated Globe + Mail article. He was not trying to escape.
posted by philip-random at 1:25 PM on September 1, 2009


Righteousness does not trump physics. The law does not protect you so much as affords your estate a chance for justice. Small comfort to your mom.

sounds like wisdom to me.
posted by philip-random at 1:27 PM on September 1, 2009


Looking at the comments on the CBC site, (the only major media site that hasn't disabled them), it appears the only thing that unites Conservatives and Liberals is their disdain for cyclists.
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 1:35 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll also point out that we've largely corrected drunk driving through stiffer penalties and awareness, largely awareness of the penalties. We could reduce bike deaths using similar methods, i.e. we take your license if you prove your a risk to other while driving.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:37 PM on September 1, 2009


Righteousness does not trump physics. The law does not protect you so much as affords your estate a chance for justice.

And yet might continues to not make right, either. Just because cars kill and maim cyclists with great regularity doesn't that cyclists should just shut up and take it either. A culture that accepts vehicular homicide as the status quo is not one I want to live in.
posted by bonehead at 1:37 PM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Righteousness does not trump physics may sound like wisdom but it also says sit down and shut the fuck up.
posted by lacus at 1:38 PM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Look, if you want to use the "we can occupy a lane because we're a vehicle" (which, BTW, is accurate and I have no problems with it), you can't ALSO say that you have the right to ignore traffic laws, since you don't (certainly not in, say, California). Either you're legally the same or you're not. Probably the RIGHT thing is to create a new class of vehicles that have some of the same rights and some different ones, since there are some big differences in capabilities between cars, motorcycles, and bikes, but until then there is basically one set of rules.

I've had a bike cross a red light directly in front of me going through a green light the other way -- had I not hit the brakes quick enough, I would have hit them. They just assumed I would stop (on a green light...) or didn't see me (possibly the latter, this was SF and one of those intersections on top of a hill where you can't see anything until you crest it, but that only heightens the stupidity of what he did). So the idea that cyclists will never do this because they could die is clearly wrong, there are idiot cyclists just as there are idiots in everything.

Of course, rage is an issue for pretty much everyone (I've even seen pedestrians get mad at cars and hit them with things, and driver rage at pedestrians who walk slow across an intersection can get pretty bad --- this is hardly limited to car/bike interactions). That's why in this case, the initial action is only a small part of the story --- no matter who is at fault, the right reaction is to calm down, act defensively, and do what it takes to fix the situation -- not get revenge (seems obvious, but quite clearly is hard for all parties given the car/car, car/motorcycle, car/bike, and even bike/bike altercations I see all the time).
posted by wildcrdj at 1:39 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


*** Lesson for cyclists: If you're going to go apeshit, do it quickly and then leave. Bust his brake light with your u-lock, then take off quickly in a direction he can't follow. He's driving a murder weapon, and who knows if he has a gun or other weapon in the car.

...

Pity the next cyclist along the way has to deal with your queue of people who now have a really shitty attitude to cyclists based on your crappy beahviour. But, hey, you're OK, right?


Um, what? I do my very best *not* to go apeshit. I was just giving advice to those who do. If I ever did anything like that, it would be because the driver was trying to injure me purposely.

All I'm saying is that if you're gonna do it, just create as much property damage in as short a time as possible, then get out. There's no reason to endanger your life.

If someone was in the process of assaulting me while I'm on a bike, that's what I'd do. Smash and distract.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:40 PM on September 1, 2009


You can buy warning devices for quiet electric/hybrid cars. Meant for deer (for which they have questionable effectiveness), but they make enough noise to warn a cyclist or pedestrian.

I've been cycling for 20 years now, but in the US and in Germany. I commute every day. Bottom line is, there are a lot of asses on the road, no matter the form of transport.
posted by moonbiter at 1:41 PM on September 1, 2009


It's not a weight sensor, it's a circuit. Sometimes you can get off, lay the bike down on its side over the sensor, and stand back up and sometimes that's enough metal to trigger it. This page says the same thing.

Good luck with that. Sometimes my Kawasaki Vulcan (hundreds of pounds) won't trip the "circuit". When that happens I run the light. Just like I do on my Mongoose 250 Crossways. (<40 lbs)
posted by notreally at 1:44 PM on September 1, 2009


sorry wildcrdj, there is but one rule for a biker: don't crash.

I occupy an entire lane when it helps me not crash into thengs like peds and car doors. I run red lights because it makes me less available for things to crash into.

I don't wear a helmet because it contradicts this rule (if I not going to crash I don't need a helmet).

it may not be the law of the land, but it is anarchy out there any way. try to hurt me and it will not be taken lightly.

and, of course, people fuck up and this OK if you own up.
posted by lacus at 1:51 PM on September 1, 2009


FWIW, I've seen dedicated bike lanes in Battery Park City in NYC. Don't know about elsewhere in North America.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:54 PM on September 1, 2009


Edmonton in a nutshell: we resist improved bike access, we don't want bikes on the road, and we don't want bikes on the sidewalks.

And all we have is a recent spate of traffic-related bike deaths to show for it.



What is this thread about again?
posted by mazola at 1:55 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


lacus: "Righteousness does not trump physics may sound like wisdom but it also says sit down and shut the fuck up."

well good luck fightin the man (Newton)
posted by boo_radley at 1:56 PM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


What is this thread about again indeed! I could give a shit about what we all think of rolling stops. This thread was kinda set up for cacophony by being both about a specific incident, and then [more inside]: lots of general talk about bikes vs. cars. All of our anecdotes are largely beside the point, which is that this man is now dead, many others are and will continue to be, and that it is absolutely entirely a question of government policy, and how little those in power care about being accountable to those that must use their roads to inhabit their municipalities. We care about drunk drivers, we're in hysteria over stoned drivers, we are fascinated by racing drivers, but by and large to the non-cycling community bikers can just fuck off and die.
posted by kaspen at 2:03 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


please without Newton there would be no Critical Mass.
posted by lacus at 2:04 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know if anybody cares at this point, but from my experience of cycling in a number of large cities, and similarly sized cities in different countries with different cycling cultures (San Francisco, Berlin, London, San Diego, Copenhagen, Malmö, Bristol) the biggest factor I have observed in how drivers treat cyclists is whether or not these drives are cyclists themselves. In particular, in both Copenhagen and Malmö (sweden, btw) drivers are cautious, slow down, and give what can feel like a ridiculous amount of space to the cyclist. Of course in many places there are segregated cycle paths, so this isn't even an issue then (but don't get me started on mixed cycling-moped paths...) Since everybody cycles, everybody knows how threatening cars can be and goes out of their way to give cyclists, even slow curb-hugging ones, enough space to not only be safe but also to feel safe.
posted by beerbajay at 2:04 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not to slag the many drivers in this thread and on the roads who go to great trouble to ensure the safety of their more insecure road brethren. I'm just tired of paying taxes for roads and transit and always being a second class citizen to the very instrument that is destroying our cities, planet, and occasionally our lives.
posted by kaspen at 2:05 PM on September 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


lacus: what...
posted by pantsrobot at 2:07 PM on September 1, 2009


it also says sit down and shut the fuck up

?? Um no, it says don't start a confrontation with a guy who is still in his 2000lb death machine. Wait till the police arrive, or he's gotten out and turned it off, to get all shouty.
posted by nomisxid at 2:11 PM on September 1, 2009


Look, if you want to use the "we can occupy a lane because we're a vehicle"

The thing that disgusts me most about this disgraceful shitpile of a thread is people constantly arguing about bike lanes and such, clearly demonstrating their complete failure to read the very first link in the post. Here I present unto you, the facts on the matter:

The car apparently swerved to the oncoming lane of traffic along Bloor, very close to the sidewalk that the cyclist hung over. “He started going [driving] onto the sidewalk,” said Manuel Machado, a construction worker standing on the street as it unfolded.

This cyclist was on the sidewalk on the opposing side of the street. To hit him, the driver swerved dangerously across oncoming traffic, and smacked him with his side view mirror - he could have just as easily been a pedestrian waiting for a bus. Why do we have a hundred comments discussing the vices and virtues of cyclists on streets and bike lanes and helmets and blah blah blah when it has absolutely fuck-all to do with this incident? Are you being ignorant or willfully obscurantist? Perhaps we should move on to whining about how cyclists on sidewalks are endangering our precious children, or somesuch. (Oh wait, I see we already did that 50 comments up.)

Metafilter: truly disappointing.
posted by mek at 2:11 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


(an unsuccessful pun on physics, Newton, and the Critical Mass bike ride. sorry)
posted by lacus at 2:13 PM on September 1, 2009


No, mek, the cyclist was not initially on the sidewalk. From the Globe article in the first link:

Announcing the twin charges, Sergeant Tim Burrows said Mr. Sheppard’s death resulted from an altercation between a cyclist and a driver “that ended in a minor collision,” and outlined what allegedly happened next.

"The cyclist approached the driver of the vehicle and grabbed hold of the vehicle. The driver at that time proceeded west toward Avenue Road, with the cyclist - to all intents and purposes a pedestrian - attached to the vehicle … he fell off near Avenue Road.”


This whole thing is horrific enough without careless reading turning this into a sidewalk cyclist hunt.
posted by maudlin at 2:19 PM on September 1, 2009


mek,

The sidewalk across the street was where the cyclist was dragged to following a confrontation with the driver. A number of cyclists on this thread have experienced similar confrontations, and many people feel they result from a general attitude towards (or disdain for) cycling exhibited by drivers in a number of North American cities. Others feel that this is leading to a crisis in Toronto, with "war on cars" rhetoric being thrown about in response to proposals that are intended to make the city safer for cyclists.

Do you now understand how this discussion has evolved?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:19 PM on September 1, 2009


Please stop.
As a cyclist, I appreciate your good thoughts and courtesy, but drivers that err on the side of "nice" with cyclists are just as bad as drivers that err on the side of aggressiveness. I mentioned a common circumstance above where I can't read a driver's intentions when they linger for me at a four-way stop, and an overcourteous driver removes the key element in cyclist safety: predictability.


I didn't word that well, and I was afraid that would be misconstrued after I hit "post." I didn't mean I surrendered my right-of-way whenever I saw a bicycle. I meant that I'm goddam sure I've given a cyclist his right of way, when it's his. The only time I surrender the right of way to a bike is if I'm approaching a 4-way stop at the same time as a bike on the intersecting street and it's not obvious they're going to stop, because quite often, they don't. I often get The Glare from cyclists who ride on through after I come to a stop when we've both approached a 4-way at the same time. WTF.

If the situation is ambiguous, especially concerning the intent of the cyclist, I give some room just in case. If that irks you, then go ahead, wave your middle finger and peddle on. I won't let it get to me, personally.

Don't be good. Be predictable. And demand the same behaviour from me.

Cylcists are unpredictable. And squishy. I understand where you're coming from, and I know what you mean by the "nice" driver thing. I have people in other cars do it to me too and it pisses me off. (You got to the 4-way stop 3 seconds before me, and here we are, staring at each other. Oh, thanks for finally waving me on, even though you were supposed to go first. Gah.). But if being predictable means being a careless asshole, I don't think I'm going to heed that advice. I can't demand anything of a cyclist -- it could mean crushing them, and that would be bad. I can't be in everyone's head, so I just lay back a few feet. If I decide to sit 15 feet behind you at a red light instead of rolling up on your back tire, when we're both in the same lane and waiting to go straight, is that a reason to turn around and scream "ASSHOLE" at me? (it's happened)

Anyway, I'm not blowing you off, or just gainsaying. I see your point of view on the overly-nice thing, but I don't really do that. I didn't word my first post well, and I had only read 60% of the comments when I typed it up.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:22 PM on September 1, 2009


The driver of the car actually made one of the first 911 calls, according to an updated Globe + Mail article. He was not trying to escape.

um, what article? this one? which says: "Sgt. Burrows said he's facing a charge of failing to remain at the scene of a collision, and is under investigation about the circumstances of the crash."

or do you mean this article, which implies that Bryant called 911 AFTER he had finished crushing the cyclist?

seriously, what are you smoking anyway, if you think he wasn't trying to escape. are you suggesting he was driving away from an accident scene at 90 km/h in order to circle the block and return to the scene of the accident?
posted by mano at 2:22 PM on September 1, 2009


mek: this incident happened in the context of a wider cultural conflict regarding the rights of bicyclists. A road rage incident involving a bicyclist is naturally going to end up becoming an entry point into this important and ongoing discussion.

In the context of discussing these events, we have had disagreements about what the traffic laws are regarding cyclists. Seeing as disagreements about traffic laws are literally a matter of life and death, it is only healthy that we argue about this and consider one another's points of view on the issue.

On the one side, we have impatient and annoyed motorists who notice how many cyclists actively (and proudly, even) break traffic laws. On another, we have cyclists who are resentful that their rights in road usage are so flagrantly (and even fatally) disrespected. I think it behooves all of us to at least make some attempt to hash this out, even if the discussion gets heated.

As far as I am concerned, if even one cyclists thinks twice before running a red, or even one motorists waits a bit longer behind a cyclist taking up the lane instead of honking and accelerating past unsafely, then that is worth all the trolling, flaming, and stupidity that this thread may have to offer.
posted by idiopath at 2:23 PM on September 1, 2009


speaking of which, with the killer "sending condolences to the family", this douchebag is invoking serious parallels to ted kennedy!
posted by mano at 2:24 PM on September 1, 2009


idiopath, and what if this thread results in one more motorist who feels that the cyclist he just saw blow a traffic light doesnt deserve to be respected or have their safety considered. and so that motorist proceeds to willfully endanger the "scofflaw" cyclist because he harbors a latent grudge based on the kind of venom you read in the comments section everytime something like this happens?
posted by mano at 2:27 PM on September 1, 2009


I think what I really meant was if there's doubt or margin for error, it goes to the bicycle.

Seeing as how this is dumbfu Texas, I may be the only thing buffering you from that F-350 drive who doesn't think you have a right to exist.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:28 PM on September 1, 2009


lacus if you're not actually 16 and so full of testosterone that you can't see straight, then you should probably look into a group or therapeutic hobby (obvisously not biking) that can help you take some of the edge off.

Unless you're flat out just attempting to troll, you're becoming more and more unhinged as this thread has progressed. Viva la Bikers and all that, but Anger In The Face Of Everything is not exactly a winning strategy.
posted by cavalier at 2:30 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


mano, the idea that a motorist is going to intentionally kill a biker because they got pissed off by something they read in a thread is beyond comprehension.
posted by lacus at 2:32 PM on September 1, 2009


This incident was the result of willfully dangerous driving which could have just as easily killed anyone else: the motorist himself, a pedestrian on the sidewalk, or another driver obeying the rules of the road.

Using this as a launch point to bitch about rude cyclists is disgraceful, dishonorable, and disrespectful to an innocent man who is now dead.
posted by mek at 2:34 PM on September 1, 2009


a motorist just killed a biker using their car as a weapon and people want to blame the biker, and I'm unhinged. WTF.
posted by lacus at 2:35 PM on September 1, 2009


mano:
I have a trust, perhaps a misguided trust, that by exchanging opinions and relating experiences, even in a heated or argumentative manner, people will be less rather than more inclined to future violence.

I could be wrong, but my impression is that it is echo chambers and one sided hate fests that lead to violence, moreso than open exchanges of opinion.
posted by idiopath at 2:36 PM on September 1, 2009


Nobody's blaming the biker. We are bikers who don't want to end up like he did, is all.
posted by No Robots at 2:37 PM on September 1, 2009


Calling you unhinged and blaming the biker in this scenario are not the same thing, hope you can see that.
posted by cavalier at 2:37 PM on September 1, 2009


lacus- please refer to this article
posted by djseafood at 2:39 PM on September 1, 2009


I don't wear a helmet because it contradicts this rule (if I not going to crash I don't need a helmet).

I think you misunderstand the word "contradict."
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:43 PM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


if running red lights is dangerous then certainly there would be less red light running, an evolutionary sorting algorithm that would punish transgressors.

Driving a car is pretty damn dangerous, and yet the "evolutionary sorting algorithm" doesn't seem to be reducing driving by all that much as a result.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:45 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


lacus if you're not actually 16 and so full of testosterone that you can't see straight, then you should probably look into a group or therapeutic hobby (obvisously not biking) that can help you take some of the edge off.

Maybe he's just mad everybody is calling him Iacus (it looks like lacus with a lower-case L to me ...).

IMO, aside from mildly trolling language in initial posts, lacus has been fairly sane.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:47 PM on September 1, 2009


Give evolution another 10 000 years and it will have sorted it all out by then.
posted by mek at 2:47 PM on September 1, 2009


djseafood, you think Charles Diez to be a stable man enraged to the point of frustration merely by the presence of the biker? or that there are other rage issues going on?

I think if we went tit for tat I could post more articles about violent psychos not involving a biker, then you could with.
posted by lacus at 2:48 PM on September 1, 2009


I don't wear a helmet because it contradicts this rule (if I not going to crash I don't need a helmet).

I think you misunderstand the word "contradict."


Yeah, I was going to say the same thing. Even if the first rule is "don't crash," sometimes it's not up to you (a bike part fails, someone spills something in the road, someone else hits you, etc).

Wear your helmet. Please.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:48 PM on September 1, 2009


I would love to have such control over fate that I could avoid crashing by not wearing a helmet. Alas.
posted by moonbiter at 2:49 PM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I decree lacus sane, and his ballsy me-against-the-world bikerlyness to be both typical and adaptive. And his critical mass Newton joke to have been funny.
posted by kaspen at 2:49 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


thanks mrgrimm, maybe I should consider Iacus.
posted by lacus at 2:51 PM on September 1, 2009


thanks kaspen.
posted by lacus at 2:52 PM on September 1, 2009


It's all good, clearly we just have an enormous outburst of thread rage here today. The revving engines of our keyboards, too much adrenaline all around, good thing there are no virtual mail boxes to ram our enemies into at 90k.
posted by kaspen at 2:57 PM on September 1, 2009


I dispute lacus' one rule for a biker (i.e. don't crash) as fails to take into consideration crunches and punches.
posted by mazola at 2:59 PM on September 1, 2009


djseafood, you think Charles Diez to be a stable man enraged to the point of frustration merely by the presence of the biker? or that there are other rage issues going on?

I think you missed the presumably humorous point of the link: the biker's helmet saved his life because it stopped Diez's bullet.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:59 PM on September 1, 2009


ME: The driver of the car actually made one of the first 911 calls, according to an updated Globe + Mail article. He was not trying to escape ...

MANO: Seriously, what are you smoking anyway, if you think he wasn't trying to escape. are you suggesting he was driving away from an accident scene at 90 km/h in order to circle the block and return to the scene of the accident?


As I indicated a long time ago, the real story here is about Road Rage, not bikers vs drivers. According to the facts as we currently have them, a minor incident occurred in which no one was hurt (certainly not badly). Then shit happened. This is when the vehicle was reported as traveling at 90 kph (with the cyclist attached).

I'm imagining that afterward, the driver of the car, horrified at what he'd just been part of, then dialed 911. I guess in Toronto that this constitutes NOT leaving the scene of an accident as, in making the phone call, he was not trying to escape the long arm of the law.

As for what I'm smoking? Nothing at all. How about you? You seem to be having a tough time staying still long enough to catch all the details here.
posted by philip-random at 3:08 PM on September 1, 2009


about that you could be right (certainly is funny in that context). I thought the link reffering to my reading a thread and murderous comment ...

I don't think contradict such a bad word choice, my point being that to don a helmet is to introduce the idea you might need it (crash) and since my only rule is 'don't crash' as in 'I will not crash', it seems some how self defeating and/or contradictory. allow me me leeway, this isn't my phd.
posted by lacus at 3:09 PM on September 1, 2009


you have to be aggressive as a biker, especially in an urban core.

passivity equals injury.


That's nonsense - I've cycled in downtown Toronto, including on the bit of road where this cyclist was killed - and the safest way to ride there is to be alert and drive defensively - just like a driver of a car.

A bicycle is a vehicle - you follow the laws, be predictable in your movements, and stay alert to what's around you, including trucks that might be turning or cars pulling out of driveways. Don't go into blindspots - just like you shouldn't drive into someone's blindspot. And don't do that annoying thing of pulling up on the right unless you are turning right (and maybe not even then if there is no right-hand-turn lane) - if you are going straight, stay back behind all the cars in front of you. Signal, like a car has to,

and above all, follow the laws.

Being aggressive is dangerous - whether walking, cycling or driving. We all share the roads, and we are all responsible for safety.
posted by jb at 3:11 PM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


my point being that to don a helmet is to introduce the idea you might need it (crash) and since my only rule is 'don't crash' as in 'I will not crash', it seems some how self defeating and/or contradictory.

Man, I'm glad you're not one my loved ones.
posted by philip-random at 3:11 PM on September 1, 2009


why philip-random, you want your loved ones to crash?
posted by lacus at 3:14 PM on September 1, 2009


mano, the idea that a motorist is going to intentionally kill a biker because they got pissed off by something they read in a thread is beyond comprehension.

er, i didnt say they would go out and murder a cyclist. i said they'd might become LES INCLINED to respect my safety as a cyclist.

anyway, im not waxing hypothetical here. this has personally happened to me, a number of times. for example, i was riding along my usual commute route, in moderate traffic... and yes, not stopping *completely* at stop signs, and a motorist became pissed at me, because i was moving faster than him. after i passed him a few times, the next time he caught up he tried to force me off the road. i reacted quickly, and was fine, but the point remains, he thought that it was legitimate to threaten me with his car because hed seen me roll through a few stop signs.

now, given that there are people out there like that, when theres a discussion around a road rage murder, and people, rather than condemn it, immediately bring up the issue of cyclists runing lights, of course i get sensitive. people like this jerk didnt develop their sick logic out of nowhere, they develop the idea that they can attack people for traffic violations over time, and become more and more likely to do it as the anti-cyclist ideas they have are reinforced by anti-biker polemics that go unchallenged.
posted by mano at 3:14 PM on September 1, 2009


jb, I bet you enjoy your tea tepid, no?
posted by lacus at 3:15 PM on September 1, 2009


in that drivers seem to be jealous of bikers (you moving faster), I agree.

this is an interesting point. maybe it is because they know, like a smoker, that what they are doing (driving a car) is killing things. they feel a bit guilty.

maybe it is because as we ride we become stronger and healthier and they melt into big globs of fat. haters.
posted by lacus at 3:20 PM on September 1, 2009


Dammit lacus, I decreed you sane, don't wig out on us now! Seriously, I think there is room for both perspectives, you want to be brash, jb wants to play it safe, that's cool. I think we all have a right to endanger ourselves and only ourselves. As long as nobody kills anyone, it's all fun and games right?
posted by kaspen at 3:25 PM on September 1, 2009


I would love to have such control over fate that I could avoid crashing by not wearing a helmet. Alas.

And I would love to carpool, but my tiger rock is taking up the passenger seat.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:25 PM on September 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


A) This thread has a lot of good comments, and a lot of not-so-good comments. I feel like I am learning things, and I feel terrible for what is clearly a tragedy for all involved, particularly the victim.

B) Iacus you have an interesting perspective, but I was wondering if you were familiar with Timecube? Thoughts?
posted by exlotuseater at 3:27 PM on September 1, 2009


and yes, not stopping *completely* at stop signs, and a motorist became pissed at me, because i was moving faster than him. after i passed him a few times, the next time he caught up he tried to force me off the road.

you didn't want to obey 1 law, he didn't want to obey 1 law. sounds fair and balanced to me. =p
posted by nomisxid at 3:28 PM on September 1, 2009


How silly is it that we harass one another based on our transportation preferences?
posted by mrgrimm at 3:35 PM on September 1, 2009


you have to be aggressive as a biker, especially in an urban core.


No, you have to be assertive.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:51 PM on September 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


No, you have to be assertive.

Exactly
posted by cyphill at 4:03 PM on September 1, 2009


Negligent driving I'd consider to be things like talking on your cellphone, or getting your nephew to steer while you roll a cigarette.
Swerving your car at high speed to bash off somebody clinging desperately to the side seems a far sight worse than 'negligent.'
posted by Flashman at 4:13 PM on September 1, 2009


I don't wear a helmet because it contradicts this rule (if I not going to crash I don't need a helmet).

as someone who's destroyed three or four helmets, one by sailing through a car's windsheild, i can only say please, for the love of god don't be such a moron. they really do live up to their promise in ways that your bravado won't.
posted by klanawa at 4:18 PM on September 1, 2009


as someone who's destroyed three or four helmets, one by sailing through a car's windsheild,

Clearly, you hadn't decided that you WOULD NOT crash. lacus runs rings around your sanity and wisdom with his special ju ju.
posted by philip-random at 4:22 PM on September 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


This post is pertenent to what happened to me yesterday:

It was nearing evening, but it wasn't quite dark. I was visiting a friend who lived a block off Bushwick Av, Brooklyn, which is a pretty busy road, especially during prime times like 7-8 pm. We were walking to the corner store on Bushwick and the cars were going full speed through the green light at the intersection onto whatever their destination. Suddenly there is a bicyclist moving perpendicular to the traffic, running his red light (on a fixie, natch).

A sedan hits him at full speed with a pretty serious thud. The cyclist and his bicycle go flying rag doll. I didn't see the cyclist land but I heard him a moment later (a sick, sick moment later) screaming. His ankle looked visibly disturbed and his hand was wrecked. The worst part is he wasn't wearing a helmet. He was conscious after the accident, and this being New York, everyone rushed immediately to help and the ambulance was there withing minutes; however, though he was sitting up I could see that a piece of his scalp was missing. There were blood drops drizzled over the sidewalk.

Running a red light, with no helmet on.

After the corner store visit and a cigarette I left my friends apartment to go home. The scene was cleared and the biker was loaded in the ambulance; the sedan driver was stopped by the side of the road, after talking to the police, leaning on his car. There was nothing he could have done (besides not driving an automobile) to have prevented the collision.

There are forms of brain injuries that don't seem serious at first, as the brain still functions for several days normally, but because of an impact on the skull there are broken blood vessels inside the brain. The brain slowly fills with blood and the recipient of the injury dies several days later.

The week before that, I saw the aftermath of a car-on-scooter accident that left a dead body blocking the street and a river of blood dripping off the Williamsburg bridge. At the end of the bridge, drivers were angrily honking at the traffic back up.

The problem here is not bikes vs cars or small car vs big car, it is a problem of sharing, especially yielding any physical space; a cultural imperative to be in a big hurry with an incredibly self-important attitude when driving any form of transportation (especially private automobiles). We must all work together as we move about on these roadways we share.
posted by fuq at 4:30 PM on September 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


I wear a helmet because I like to crash into things.

It's half the fun of riding and frankly the only way I know to stop.
posted by mazola at 4:40 PM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


philip-random:

whatever you are smoking, it produces the illusion that your assumptions have some kind of a factual basis. the man was in an accident and failed to stop. I'm referring to the FIRST incident, according to witnesses it was minor, but it was still an accident.

Clearly, he did not stop at the scene of that accident, although he was legally required to do so. So the whole incident apparently began with the driver breaking the law.
posted by mano at 5:01 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find the fact that the path of the whole horrific encounter is marked out territorially in the Globe and Mail article with the delimiters Sephora and United Colours of Benetton a little surreal and disturbing.

.
posted by Heretic at 5:26 PM on September 1, 2009


Legs scream at bikes and bikes scream at trucks
and motorists curse their lousy luck
Crossing Guard's not doing his job
and traffic's not about to stop for the first casualty of thought
it's the rules
it's the rules

The Rules ~ The Tragically Hip
posted by bwg at 5:29 PM on September 1, 2009


So there will be several memorial services for Darcy Sheppard, in the messenger tradition - throw your bike down in the street and block traffic.

I wish more drama students took up bike messengering. If cyclists want to seize the opportunity that the TV cameras offer, they need something symbolic, and they need an audience. Blocking traffic is very symbolic, but it doesn't evoke sympathy and it doesn't get an audience. If instead, the mourners lined the curb lanes on either side, shoulder to shoulder, dressed in black, allowing rush hour traffic to creep through in shame, they could really have a moment.

But, I'm not a messenger, and it's not my business. Bryant's public relations firm will be quite happy to be able to push the 'crazy messengers want to attack you' meme unhindered.
posted by anthill at 5:39 PM on September 1, 2009


The cyclist killed in an altercation with former Ontario attorney-general Michael Bryant had been drinking and was involved in a confrontation with police earlier in the evening....Earlier eyewitness accounts describe an angry clash between Mr. Bryant and Mr. Sheppard – a toot of the horn and a shout to get moving from Mr. Bryant; a refusal and perhaps an answering shout from Mr. Sheppard; Mr. Bryant edging his convertible closer, and by one account, actually hitting Mr. Sheppard's bike, whereupon Mr. Sheppard allegedly left his bike and marched over and reached into the offending open car.
More details.
posted by mazola at 5:44 PM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


we should all wind oil soaked rags around around our handle bars, light them on fire, and send our bikes rolling, flaming into rush our traffic like Hannibal in Campania.
posted by lacus at 5:46 PM on September 1, 2009


the cars were going full speed through the green light at the intersection onto whatever their destination. Suddenly there is a bicyclist moving perpendicular to the traffic, running his red light (on a fixie, natch).

The problem here is not bikes vs cars or small car vs big car, it is a problem of sharing, especially yielding any physical space; a cultural imperative to be in a big hurry with an incredibly self-important attitude when driving any form of transportation (especially private automobiles bicycles rolling on a moral high ground).


FTFY

(otherwise, it was quite well-written)
posted by bl1nk at 5:49 PM on September 1, 2009


Hannibal rode a bike?
posted by mazola at 5:49 PM on September 1, 2009


Hannibal rode a bike?

and he probably did not wear a helmet. that was for the Roman legionnaires.

obviously lacus's cunning idea is to respond to the death of a bike messenger (bike royalty! indeed!) and the increasing aggression of cars by distracting commuters using molotov cocktails, elephants and third-degree burns all over his hands.

lacus, dude, Hannibal tied torches to cattle in Campania to decieve the Romans as to the direction of his army, not intimidate them with some morbid kamikaze death wish. but you seem to have demonstrated throughout this thread that you've never let facts, physics or reality intrude upon your romantic notions of existence. So, by all means, carry on.

It give some of us something to laugh at.
posted by bl1nk at 6:05 PM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Because I could not stop for death
I'm keenly helmet-free;
The fixie held but just myself
And crashproof certainty.
posted by cortex at 6:09 PM on September 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


bravo cortex!
posted by lacus at 6:57 PM on September 1, 2009


A meditation on cycling in Toronto (death looming at 0:34)
posted by anthill at 7:04 PM on September 1, 2009


Just noting, since I didn't see it above, that the 15-year-old teen who killed the woman accidentally last month was in fact legally allowed to be riding on the sidewalk:

The teen cyclist was not injured and did not commit a criminal offence, Staff Sgt. Brian Bowman said, though the investigating officer will be sitting down with a prosecutor to see if there is any interest in laying charges under city bylaws.

"It's not a good idea to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk but not strictly illegal," Bowman said, adding that the tire size (less than 61 cm) of the teen's bike would allow him to ride on the sidewalk.

posted by mediareport at 7:42 PM on September 1, 2009


Keep in mind that this whole incident took place over 100 meters. I'm not sure how high-speed it was.

From the article: "The driver was going so fast that at one point the biker was holding on to his car and there were sparks coming from the bottom of his shoes..."

Also, one of the construction workers estimated the speed at 90.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:51 PM on September 1, 2009


Sparks from his shoes didn't set off your WTF detector?
posted by smackfu at 8:15 PM on September 1, 2009


Sparks from his shoes didn't set off your WTF detector?

Maybe he had on some of those new high-tech pedal clip-on-thingies on the bottoms of his shoes. I've seen the Lance wannabes around here hobbling into convenience stores with those on, and they make a distinctly metallic scraping sound. That was my first thought, anyway.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:19 PM on September 1, 2009


I've ridden with clips, it's a simple question of efficiency when you're doing distance, and it doesn't take much to get them sparking on pavement. So that fact doesn't tell us much about his speed or especially corroborate the eyewitnesses' testimony.
posted by kaspen at 8:33 PM on September 1, 2009


you have to know the behavior of cars

Easy. Often, erratic.

know when to blow through intersections

Easy. Never.
posted by oaf at 8:55 PM on September 1, 2009


In my experience, Toronto cyclists, just like Toronto drivers, are incurably stupid. I've seen cyclists ride on fairly crowded sidewalks. I've seen them ride the wrong way, both on one-way and two-way streets. I've seen them ride without helmets, and I've seen them ride with headphones on. I've seen them run red lights, make illegal turns, and ignore pedestrians. Many of them appeared either not to know or not to care that they were risking their lives (and others') by doing these things.

None of this justifies dragging a cyclist down the street with your car while trying to crush him against roadside objects. But the idea that cyclists are somehow automatically infallible or morally superior is a stupid and dangerous one.
posted by oaf at 9:18 PM on September 1, 2009


bullshit. there are plenty of good reasons to blow through intersections.

one example: you're riding in heavy traffic, up ahead is an intersection where lots of right hand turns are made. as the biker is approaching the intersection he/she notices that traffic is stopped, a chain of cars have right turn blinkers on. what do you do?

you blow through the intersection on the right hand side before traffic can start and those numerous cars take the right hand turns. you have successfully protected yourself and done it in a timely fashion.

the only other option is too patiently wait in traffic, putting yourself at risk. it is foolish.
posted by lacus at 9:21 PM on September 1, 2009


crossing the 401, there is no way I wouldn't use the sidewalk here.
posted by lacus at 9:26 PM on September 1, 2009


oaf, just because you FEEL it is risky behavior does not make it so.
posted by lacus at 9:28 PM on September 1, 2009


actually, lacus, the answer to your question is to temporarily take the lane and then lane-split and approach on the left side of the right turning cars, while remaining the right lane.

If you sprint for the intersection at a red light in a city where cars allowed to turn right on red, you are begging for a right hook and high speed collision where you, the cyclist will likely be at fault for not yielding right of way to a vehicle that is ahead of you.

Next question?
posted by bl1nk at 9:33 PM on September 1, 2009


sometimes that is exactly what I would do, but not in the situation I described. traffic is stopped, there is no lane to take without stopping in the middle of the lane. stopping and jostling with cars is just stupid.

do your self a favor and get through the intersection.
posted by lacus at 9:40 PM on September 1, 2009


was just reading the latest accounts of the incident which have the driver honking at the rider then edging up behind him, possibly ending in contact with the bike.

wow. this exact thing has happened to me, in Toronto. What happens is, as a cyclist, you pull up at a light meaning to go straight ahead. You occupy the center of the lane because if you stay on the right, some truck is going to pull up beside you and attempt to turn right, killing you.

Now a car (a cab in my case) pulls up behind you and wants to turn right. If you were a car they would just wait their turn, but since you are a bike they get all uppity and start honking.

Now you have the choice of

a) moving into the junction and getting killed
b) moving to the right, so that cars can pass you on the right when the light changes, and getting killed

so you don't move. But the asshole behind you keeps honking, and moving forward, and eventually gives your back wheel a bump in case you haven't got the message.

At this point you have just been quite deliberately assaulted by a car and, trust me, you lose it. In my case I dumped the bike in front of the cab and started yelling at the guy at the top of my voice, out of self protection as much as anything, since I wanted everyone to look round and see what happened next if it got nasty.
posted by unSane at 9:40 PM on September 1, 2009


in (b) when I say 'moving to the right' I mean 'moving to the left', ie into the center of the road.

sorry... late, beer etc
posted by unSane at 9:42 PM on September 1, 2009


lacus -- the cars are stopped, correct? there are gaps between the cars, yes? the light is red, yes?

then there is no reason why you can't weave between the stopped cars behind the red light and ride in the empty lane space between the left side of the right turning cars and the next lane of traffic.

this places you at a position where you can move ahead of the right turning cars without exposing yourself to the risk that you timed the light improperly and it goes green right before you get to the intersection, resulting in a right hook.

check and mate in two moves.

next question.
posted by bl1nk at 9:47 PM on September 1, 2009


oaf, just because you FEEL it is risky behavior does not make it so.

You're correct. It would be risky even if I didn't believe it was.

there is no way I wouldn't use the sidewalk here

But you wouldn't be riding your bike; you'd be walking it.

you have successfully protected yourself and done it in a timely fashion

Putting yourself at risk of being sideswiped because you've passed illegally on the right in a non-lane and run a red light is not "protecting yourself."

You might want to get yourself some experience navigating your way through traffic before pontificating incorrectly about how it operates.
posted by oaf at 9:48 PM on September 1, 2009


so unSane if you are waiting at a light and there is too much traffic to go through the intersection (run the light), you still need to get yourself to the front of the line, in front of the foremost car. do it in such a way that you make eye contact with the car you are sliding in front of, invite conversation if they would like. once you make eye contact, the driver is going to respect you.

anyway, great story. getting inched up on at an intersection is the number one way to get injured.
posted by lacus at 9:48 PM on September 1, 2009


"rather than" works better than "before"
posted by oaf at 9:49 PM on September 1, 2009


oaf, I've ridden my bike as my main form of transportation for twenty-four years. never, not once, have I been hit.

I think you feel it is risky because you have a low tolerance for stress and excitement. you should not assume every body is like you.

and NO I would not walk my bike. why the fuck would I? I would respect any ped I encountered, dismounting if neccasary.
posted by lacus at 9:52 PM on September 1, 2009


I can imagine nothing more dangerous then riding between to lanes of cars. always leave yourself an out. learn to bunny hop like your life depends on it.
posted by lacus at 9:59 PM on September 1, 2009


I think you feel it is risky because you have a low tolerance for stress and excitement. you should not assume every body is like you.

I didn't mention above that when you're blowing through a typical intersection against a light, you're also crossing at least one (and maybe two) crosswalks that have a walk signal. What if you hit someone who starts crossing as soon as the signal turns? Do you really want to be stuck paying for their hospital stay?
posted by oaf at 10:00 PM on September 1, 2009


the cars are stopped, correct? correct

there are gaps between the cars, yes? no

the light is red, yes? no

this is a silly game.
posted by lacus at 10:01 PM on September 1, 2009


when you run a red light you do not do it when there is traffic coming or peds in the way.
posted by lacus at 10:03 PM on September 1, 2009


Please stay off the sidewalks, cyclists. The next schmuck who has the temerity to ring your stupid bell at me or yelp 'Watch out!' because they're wobbling all over the sidewalk may quite possibly get clotheslined.

Cyclists are just jealous of pedestrians' superior morality, anyway.

Four wheels bad! Two wheels good! Two feet unto like Christ himself!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:04 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


up with peds!

any ways the nice thing about peds is they are so much softer then cars.
posted by lacus at 10:06 PM on September 1, 2009


I wouldn't recommend lane splitting in moving traffic, but at a red light with backed up traffic where limits in forward travel prohibit a car's ability to travel laterally? by all means.

you have numerous outs in the gaps between the cars that are stranded.

and if that scares you, then, hell, you can still ride up to the back of the very first car in the right lane and just slide over around it. Many ways to skin that particular cat, and all much safer than just gunning it through the red.
posted by bl1nk at 10:08 PM on September 1, 2009


any ways the nice thing about peds is they are so much softer then cars.

And cyclists who eschew helmets don't scratch up your bumper. Everyone wins!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:09 PM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Many ways to skin that particular cat, and all much safer than just gunning it through the red.

I think this is where you insert a comment about having built up all that momentum, and how you should get to keep that momentum.
posted by oaf at 10:10 PM on September 1, 2009


well bl1nk, I agree with you. still your assertion that there is never a good time to blow through a red is myopic at best.
posted by lacus at 10:11 PM on September 1, 2009


Well, I live in the suburbs.

The sidewalks are no good for walking, because of all the teenagers riding their bikes on them. The roads are no good for biking, because of all the teenagers driving their cars on them.

And that's why I was driving my car on the sidewalk, officer.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:11 PM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


the cars are stopped, correct? correct

there are gaps between the cars, yes? no

the light is red, yes? no


oh I'm sorry, I thought we were talking about not stopping for red lights like when you said, "there are plenty of good reasons to blow through intersections."

this is a silly game.

feel free to stop playing and walk away from this thread, then.
posted by bl1nk at 10:12 PM on September 1, 2009


damn I love winning. Downtown in heavy traffic I so school cars, no wonder they are pissed!
posted by lacus at 10:12 PM on September 1, 2009


not stopping for red lights is an easy scenario. it is always OK as long as there is no traffic coming and no peds in the way. why wouldn't it be?
posted by lacus at 10:16 PM on September 1, 2009


no peds in the way

That's a big assumption you're making.
posted by oaf at 10:17 PM on September 1, 2009


how is that a big assumption. the amazing thing about a bike is how well you can see.
posted by lacus at 10:18 PM on September 1, 2009


Pedestrians do stupid shit. (I say this, having been both a pedestrian and a stupid shit.)
posted by oaf at 10:20 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


and there can certainly be peds in the crosswalk, just not in the way. for instance peds tend to always walk forward, making it safe to cross behind.
posted by lacus at 10:21 PM on September 1, 2009


well oaf, so far you have accused cars, bikes, and peds of being stupid. interesting world view.
posted by lacus at 10:22 PM on September 1, 2009


There was nothing he could have done (besides not driving an automobile) to have prevented the collision.

Wait, what was that thing? The thing in the middle. About the not driving.

Maybe people should try that.

Maybe we should... "help" them try that.
posted by regicide is good for you at 10:23 PM on September 1, 2009


interesting world view.

And correct, where "stupid" is shorthand for "acting in ways likely to endanger one's own life."
posted by oaf at 10:34 PM on September 1, 2009


drivers: stop at the stop line; cyclists: stop at the stop sign; pedestrians: use the goddamn crosswalk. christ, it's not rocket science
I disagree with this kind of thinking - that is that everything would be ok if people obeyed the rules. It's a programmatic approach and it ultimately fails because we are organic humans not mechanistic blobs.

The key thing is to simply show courtesy to the people around you and especially to those with less power than you. This means for example slightly slowing down so the pedestrian can cross easily in front of you rather than maintaining your speed so they have to run across, because you feel entitled as you are going at the lawful speed and there's no fucking pedestrian crossing there.

Maintaining flow and showing courtesy has been shown to be a successful strategy in those European towns that have done away with street signage and the road rules that contribute to people feeling entitled to act like dicks just because 'they are in the right'.

Giving way to people and waving pedestrians across in front of you is a much more pleasant way to drive. Try it sometime.
posted by Sitegeist at 10:48 PM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Whereas:

a) bicycles are a healthy and ecologically friendly mode of transit; their safe use should be permitted
b) sharing narrow urban roads with heavy traffic imposes great inconvenience for drivers, and mortal risk for cyclists
c) the widespread practice of riding on the sidewalk can be seen as a reaction to this impasse. This behaviour is not only illegal, but dangerous for pedestrians

Be it Resolved That:

All urban centers should construct a cohesive network of bike lanes. Live and Let Pass.

All in Favour?

My city is debating on this issue right now. You'd think it would be a no brainer.
posted by Popular Ethics at 11:44 PM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


bullshit. there are plenty of good reasons to blow through intersections.

one example: you're riding in heavy traffic, up ahead is an intersection where lots of right hand turns are made. as the biker is approaching the intersection he/she notices that traffic is stopped, a chain of cars have right turn blinkers on. what do you do?

you blow through the intersection on the right hand side before traffic can start and those numerous cars take the right hand turns. you have successfully protected yourself and done it in a timely fashion...

posted by lacus


Sure. But as I turn right on the red light, your pedal scrapes along the door of my absolutely mint old Mercedes. And then you know what you do? You keep on riding. Over the Burrard Bridge. So I have to chase you down. Eventually you give me $20, which doesn't begin to pay for my damage. Was that you, lacus?

Anyway. Our charismatic courier here had a history with police. And he had been drinking. I'm not defending the driver here, but the plot thickens.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:18 AM on September 2, 2009


he had a history with police

For check-forging. And we still know nothing about his "confrontation with police" earlier that evening at his (apparent) ex-girlfriend's. And I loved this from the neighbor about his response to complaints of noisy parties:

"He goes, well, you're going to have to get used to it. It's my lifestyle, we're bikers," she said.

"It's my lifestyle, we're bikers"? Really? He said that?

Anyway, the defense is pretty obvious: "I was scared of the mean drunk check-forging lifestyle biker and was trying to get away." We'll see how well it flies.
posted by mediareport at 4:49 AM on September 2, 2009


Perhaps he was a mean drunk check-forging lifestyle biker zombie? Film has taught me that sideswiping utility poles to scrape zombies off the side of your car is totally understandable.
posted by anthill at 5:11 AM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Angry cyclists may stage rush hour protest
posted by oaf at 6:27 AM on September 2, 2009


That will show those people commuting to work who's boss!
posted by smackfu at 6:56 AM on September 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


You probably don't get to be Attorney General without making some enemies in the criminal element. He might have thought this low-life was an assassin.

What I don't understand is why he didn't just slam on brakes, instead of trying to scrape him off.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:08 AM on September 2, 2009


"I was scared of the mean drunk check-forging lifestyle biker and was trying to get away."

'I didn't want to get stbbaed in the neck with a screwdriver!' would probably suffice.

What I don't understand is why he didn't just slam on brakes, instead of trying to scrape him off.

'I- I got my pedals confused!'
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:21 AM on September 2, 2009


Crabby Appleton:

I tried to figure out what was going on, what motivation the bicyclist could possibly have for grabbing on to a car.

I have been harassed, assaulted, bullied, and taunted by car drivers. And inevitably they are able to speed away before I can get a license plate number. As a bicyclist you live with the fact that someone can side swipe you or shout in your ear or throw a glass bottle at your head and get away with it (and yes drivers have done these things to me unprovoked). A friend of mine got hit in the head with a baseball bat by a passenger in a speeding car, as a non consenting player in a sport the kids supposedly call "bike baseball". She got a concussion and a bunch of bruises and scrapes and a wrecked bike. They never caught anyone who was in the car. More similarly to this particular situation, I talked to someone who took part in the "world naked bike ride" a couple of years back. A car decided to try to push through a crowd of cyclists, and ended up pushing its way into her, wrecking her bike and knocking her on the ground. Out of the whole crowd nobody was able to get his license plate, the guy was never caught.

If a driver is harassing you, and you have had prior experiences of this type (which are common, at least in North America), it is the normal reaction to want to keep them from being able to drive away. Holding on to the car is enough to keep someone who is not homicidal from speeding away.

Slamming on his brakes would not have made sense for the motorist, because he was trying to do the typical, cowardly, bully a cyclist and speed away move. It was a stupid macho game of chicken for both parties, and they had their lives in danger in different ways. With this outcome they both pretty much lost their lives (one in a much more viscerally painful physical way, the other in a more embarrassing career ruining way).
posted by idiopath at 7:29 AM on September 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


This has all just been a reminder that the worst, most dangerous drivers tend to think that they are just AWESOME at driving, because they break the rules but have not yet been in an accident. I had always known that about car drivers; now I discover it is also true of bicyclists.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:46 AM on September 2, 2009 [6 favorites]


Astro Zombie: I think it is almost universal that everyone thinks they are the best god-damned (driver/bicyclist/rollerblader/skateboarder/jaywalker) ever until they get in an accident, and often even after that.

Personally I was such a bad driver that I never finished learning to drive a car not to mention getting my license, and I accept the fact that I would be extremely dangerous if I ever drove a car on the open road. Maybe I will someday have the money for professional lessons from someone with a second steering wheel / brake pedal in the car. I have run into cars a few times on my bike but never do much damage.
posted by idiopath at 7:54 AM on September 2, 2009


idiopath, I'm sorry you've had to endure the harassment and attacks that you describe. In particular, the "bike baseball" incident that happened to your friend sounds like attempted murder to me, and whoever did it should be serving a long stretch in prison. It truly sucks that they got away with it.

Holding on to the car is enough to keep someone who is not homicidal from speeding away.

I can't agree with this. If you're holding on to a car and it starts to pull away, let go of the car! It's clear that nobody can stop a car by holding onto it. Anyone who tries is either a nut or on a mission of some kind (or both). In this case, I think the driver was freaked out by this nut holding onto the car at high speed, and just paniced.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:57 AM on September 2, 2009


When I wrote "speeding away", I should have said "driving away". And I hope I made it clear that I thought both people were being grade A self destructive life ruining morons.
posted by idiopath at 8:01 AM on September 2, 2009


The most recent update: the cyclist was drunk. Police had been called earlier in the evening when he tried to get into his girlfriend's apartment. They told him to go home. On his way home, he hit Bryant's car.

Police would later call the accident that brought the two men together a "minor collision." Sheppard appeared unhurt. He angrily slammed his bag down on the hood of Bryant's car.

Despite the evening chill, the Saab's top was down. Sheppard and Bryant began jawing at each other....

According to witnesses, Bryant cut the argument short by pulling away. As he headed westbound on Bloor St., Sheppard chased the car on foot. He grabbed hold of the vehicle on the driver's side. It's not clear if he was trying to get into the car, get at the driver or merely prevent him from leaving.


Despite the predictable rush to judgment earlier in the thread by some, it's not clear to me that this wasn't a case at a driver panicking when a drunk, aggressive cyclist tried to assault him in his convertible. We'll see - I'm just saying, don't convict the man before he has a trial.
posted by Dasein at 8:04 AM on September 2, 2009 [5 favorites]


he hit Bryant's car
Bryant's car hit him

see spot run
run spot run
posted by anthill at 8:27 AM on September 2, 2009


Film has taught me that sideswiping utility poles to scrape zombies off the side of your car is totally understandable.

Interesting. I had a thought similar to this long ago in this thread but didn't dare share it as, at the time, it would've been akin to shouting "We Deserved It" in Times Square the day after 911. How many movies do we see in a given year that feature scenes along the lines of:

Good guy gets attacked bad guy (maybe a zombie, maybe a stone cold killer, maybe an irrational drunk who's on the outs with his girlfriend), good guy tries to escape in his car but bad guy grabs onto it (maybe even gets a hold of good guy's arm, or throat), good guy resorts to crazy speed and side-swiping of something-or-other to remove bad guy from car. Bad guy dies in crunch of smashed bones and much blood. Audience cheers.

Not saying this is what happened. But even if it were, it's just not near as much fun in real life, is it?
posted by philip-random at 8:58 AM on September 2, 2009


a driver panicking when a drunk, aggressive cyclist tried to assault him

OK, so panic is pretty much a code word for "someone committed an act of murderous violence, but it is OK because they were really afraid of something" right?
posted by idiopath at 9:10 AM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, panic is imaginary. You are so right.
posted by smackfu at 9:11 AM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much of his "taking off" was a reaction to feeling vulnerable in a space normally seen as invulnerable? Drivers in cars feel like they have superpowers of physical invulnerability; an ex-mucky-muck in politics might have a feeling of legal superiority (in the "I know people in the town" vein) or perhaps invulnerability legally.

A sad business all around. I've not biked since college but I did accost (with an umbrella) a driver who bumped/hit the pedestrian me in a crosswalk. The adrenaline rush when a vehicle _could have killed you_ is almost indescribable.

To sum up: Put the top up! PUT THE TOP UP!
posted by subbes at 9:14 AM on September 2, 2009


No, really, I have heard the word panic used in reference to murder cases before. The argument is that the person was deathly afraid, therefore not in their right mind, and not accountable for their actions. Using the word panic in a situation with this kind of power imbalance is loaded. White folks in New Orleans panicked and killed black people approaching their neighborhood, because they were afraid they were looters. Some dude in Florida panicked and shot a Japanese exchange student who was trick or treating because they were afraid it was a prowler. Some dude killed his friend who outed himself on a talk show as a homosexual, it was a case of "gay panic". Panic is a popular defense for homicidally poor judgment.
posted by idiopath at 9:18 AM on September 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is a near-complete waste of a thread.

It seems clear that the final confrontation was man vs man, one of which was in control of a car, and it wasn't some sort of "snagged clothing" or attempting to hold the motorist for police, it was an attack by the cyclist on the person of the car driver.

All the riffing and arguments here about cars vs cyclists, bike lanes, etc is off-topic, fun as it was.

I guess we can possibly learn something about how not to deal with someone when you're on foot and the other person is driving a car.

And no, I don't condone sideswiping utility poles, mailboxes, etc to scrape zombies enraged cyclists off.
posted by Artful Codger at 9:22 AM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Artful Codger: yes, the traffic law discussion was off topic, and I played a big part in sending the conversation off topic.

When people disagree about traffic law, no matter who is right or wrong, that endangers lives. And I consider my responsibility to clarify such life endangering issues to be more important than my preference for a topical discussion.
posted by idiopath at 9:28 AM on September 2, 2009


I just want to add that in the last week and a half of walking my son to school, he has been run over by two kids on bikes, and one kid today hit me so hard he bounced off and landed on the ground.

I turned around and said "See...that's why we don't ride bikes on sidewalks, isn't it?" Other mothers looked at me like *I* was the monster for not running over and picking the little demon up. Fuck that kid. Bikes are illegal on the sidewalks, and there is not reason why my son's school has 10 injuries every morning because kids on bikes haven't been taught proper safety rules.

I'm close to telling my son to start pushing kids on bikes over if they hit him again. It's a freaking war zone on the way to school because these kids refuse to ride on the grass, or get off and walk their bikes...and I have just about had enough of it. I shouldn't have to drive my son to school to keep him safe from people on bicycles.

I'm sorry if I seem really cranky about this, but I have a bruises coming up on my kidney from where the kid's handle bar hit me, and a big ol bruise on my leg...and I'm pissed that everyone thought I should go run to pick up a kid who was breaking the law and injured me in the process.
posted by dejah420 at 9:35 AM on September 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah I hold sidewalk bike riders in a special contempt aslo reserved for pedestrians who walk side by side in the bike lane (happily enough cars seem to stay out of both the bike lane and the sidewalk except for the most egregious idiocy)..
posted by idiopath at 9:42 AM on September 2, 2009


Holding on to the car is enough to keep someone who is not homicidal from speeding away.

Yeah, no. Someone starts banging on my window and shouting angrily at me, it's clear front and foot down hard.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:51 AM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the article linked by Dasein above: "All of them said they could hear Bryant screaming."

I dunno, to me it sounds like he might have been panicking.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:03 AM on September 2, 2009


Someone starts banging on my window and shouting angrily at me, it's clear front and foot down hard.

That sounds reasonable when you are behind the wheel, and I think grabbing someones car if they are about to flee the scene sounds reasonable, in the moment if you aren't. I wasn't trying to advocate best practices, but to understand what would motivate someone to grab on to a (soon to be) moving vehicle.

It is good to hear when and how a person in a vehicle feels vulnerable or intimidated, because when you are out there on a bike, pretty much every moving or stationary object in view is a real threat, from a baseball sized chunk of misplaced broken concrete, to a car parked in your right of way, on up to moving hazards like every other vehicle on the road. So when bicycling it is really hard to imagine someone in a car being intimidated by you - it's like Andre the giant being intimidated by a toddler. Not that I am saying you wouldn't feel intimidated - yeah some stranger is angry and grabbing your vehicle. Just that to a cyclists mind this is fairly alien.
posted by idiopath at 10:03 AM on September 2, 2009


This is a near-complete waste of a thread.
...
All the riffing and arguments here about cars vs cyclists, bike lanes, etc is off-topic, fun as it was.
I have no idea why people don't think the car/bike/road debate does not belong here.

On one hand, this particular incident is a chance encounter between one Michael Bryant and Darcy Allen Sheppard.

Everything in my experience tells me that car/bike encounters often escalate faster and further than when, for example, two cars are involved in a similar situation.

This incident is remarkable for: 1) one of the people involved; 2) how far it went; but the basic underlying dynamic of fear/rage is entirely too common.

Understanding the concerns, fears, and practices of the groups involved can help us as cyclists, drivers, and urban planners.
posted by mazola at 10:19 AM on September 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Despite the predictable rush to judgment earlier in the thread by some, it's not clear to me that this wasn't a case at a driver panicking when a drunk, aggressive cyclist tried to assault him in his convertible. We'll see - I'm just saying, don't convict the man before he has a trial.

Panic is not an allowable defense for homicide. He doesn't get a pass for being scared. Turning someone into hamburger is not a good alternative to avoiding an angry confrontation with a drunken jerk.
posted by bonehead at 10:43 AM on September 2, 2009


Turning someone into hamburger is not a good alternative to avoiding an angry confrontation with a drunken jerk.

On the other hand, it might be a good alternative to getting a screwdriver through your neck.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:46 AM on September 2, 2009


The defense would be that he left the confrontation, and the cyclist was the one who continue the attack by holding onto the mirror, and thus caused his own death.
posted by smackfu at 10:49 AM on September 2, 2009


Panic is not an allowable defense for homicide.

explanation is not the same as justification.
posted by GuyZero at 10:50 AM on September 2, 2009


Wait, are you seriously saying that someone else getting stabbed by a screwdriver in the neck in an unrelated event justifies vehicular assault? Are we warring clans or something? "one of theirs did that to one of ours and we need to show them who owns the road". What the ever loving fuck are you talking about?
posted by idiopath at 10:51 AM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I take that last comment back. The tone is confrontational and not at all helpful. I will presume you were talking about a hypothetical case where you would be justified to kill someone with your car if they were swinging a screwdriver at you.
posted by idiopath at 10:55 AM on September 2, 2009


I bet anyone a nickel that the cyclist grabbed the steering wheel, and they were tussling over it.
posted by Artful Codger at 11:08 AM on September 2, 2009


So when bicycling it is really hard to imagine someone in a car being intimidated by you

Really? I could maybe imagine someone saying that in Toronto (where I know this took place), but you, in the US, where every other idiot has a pistol, can't imagine being intimidated by an agitated person who seems to be trying to get into your car?

A bigot may get panicked by walking through a neighbourhood with young men of a different skin colour hanging out on the corner. We wouldn't accept an explanation of "panic" if he shot one "to get away".

No, but if one of the young men of a different skin color started screaming at him and he ran away, but the young man of a different skin color was holding onto his shirt and fell over when the panicky person ran and hit his head and died, we might accept an explanation of "trying to get away from people behaving threateningly who are trying to prevent you from leaving."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:18 AM on September 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


all this talk about fear and panic being a justification for murder ...

I wonder if Michael Bryant cried at his mother's funeral?
posted by lacus at 11:19 AM on September 2, 2009


For anyone curious about the Idaho Stop law (allows rolling stops by bicycles through stop signs when it is safe to do so) mentioned above, here's a video a friend of mind made explaining the rationale.
posted by funkiwan at 11:24 AM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've had this happen. I was driving and was cut off by an abrupt lane change by an aggressive (zig-zagging through lanes to find the fastest route through traffic) driver. I hit the brakes and then the horn. At the next intersection we ended up beside each other waiting for a red light, when he got out of his car (he was HUGE) and came over to mine, yelling "What the fuck is your problem?". I responded that my problem was that he cut me off. He walked right up to my car, which had the window down, and grabbed my steering wheel with one hand and reached for my keys with the other.
I hit the gas. At that moment I didn't concern myself at all with his safety. I was flushed with adrenaline.
Luckily for us both he let go as I ran the red, turned right at the intersection, looked back to see he was still standing, and just kept going.
My incident could have easily turned out just like this one. Until more details come out I can't condemn Bryant as a homicidal monster. The fact that Sheppard was originally on a bike has no relevance to what happened.
posted by rocket88 at 11:36 AM on September 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


the messenger hook at 1:50

an effective technique.
posted by lacus at 11:38 AM on September 2, 2009


Sorry, ROU_Xenophobe, I asked for that comment to be deleted because it was a terrible analogy and I was afraid it would lead to even more tortured elaboration.

If this was a completely accidental death, I'd agree with you, but from the witness statements, the driver swerving into traffic, deliberately hitting trees, lights and post boxes, and doing this for 100m, a whole city block, says murderous intent to me, and not just a single snap bad decision.
posted by bonehead at 11:41 AM on September 2, 2009


idiopath, bonehead was trying to minimize what the cyclist did. As a counterbalance, I pointed out that you don't know where that "angry confrontation" is going. Subsequent comments have made that point better than I could, so I won't say more about it.

It would be great if everyone could be totally cool under pressure and always make the optimal decision and do what's right. Adrenaline is a hell of a drug.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:49 AM on September 2, 2009


As a cyclist i treat cars as like i would a deadly armoured beast. I keep well away and never get into fights with them.
posted by delrond at 11:50 AM on September 2, 2009


bonehead was trying to minimize what the cyclist did.

No I'm not. I'm saying that even being loud-mouthed, physically-abusive, and drunk isn't enough of a reason to kill someone in a fit of rage and/or panic.
posted by bonehead at 11:58 AM on September 2, 2009


I agree.
Even though his panic may have been somewhat understandable his actions were callous and criminally negligent at best. He purposely attempted to knock Sheppard off his car in a violent manner. He deserves at least a couple of years in jail for that. I hope the charges stick.
posted by rocket88 at 12:14 PM on September 2, 2009


I'm saying that even being loud-mouthed, physically-abusive, and drunk isn't enough of a reason to kill someone in a fit of rage and/or panic.

Well, there's never a good reason to kill someone really, short of them making it very clear that they intend to kill you, and they have the means. But if your goal is to avoid getting killed, it is best to avoid being loud-mouthed, physically abusive, drunk etc in your interactions with others ... as this kind of behavior is precisely what might trip somebody into that fit of rage and/or panic which results in your death.

This thread bugged me from the beginning because many instantly leaped in assuming the absolute worst of the driver of the car (ie: he singled out a cyclist for some irrational reason and murdered him). I can imagine various reasons for this but the big one seems to be some kind of blind anti-automobile (and those who dare drive them) political militancy which, let's face it, is just ugly and provocative and will likely accomplish nothing except ongoing fear and loathing on all sides.

I say this as someone who does not own a car and has at many times in my life chosen cycling (often in dense urban locations) as my primary form of transport.
posted by philip-random at 12:23 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Michael Bryant shows no remorse:

Let me be clear: I am innocent of the very serious accusations made against me. It would, however, be unfair to you, the Board and above all to the residents of Toronto to allow this event to distract from the vital efforts of Invest Toronto.

they need to seek the death penalty.
posted by lacus at 12:25 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


they need to seek the death penalty.

For the record, we don't do the death penalty in Canada.
posted by philip-random at 12:27 PM on September 2, 2009


rocket88, do you have any suggestions on how he could have knocked Sheppard off his car in a non-violent manner? (Earlier, I suggested slamming on brakes, which requires a basic understanding of momentum, but I'm not sure if you'd consider it non-violent.)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:29 PM on September 2, 2009


For the record, we don't do the death penalty in Canada.

a reasonable country
posted by lacus at 12:31 PM on September 2, 2009


rocket88, do you have any suggestions on how he could have knocked Sheppard off his car in a non-violent manner?

No, I don't. As long as Sheppard was hanging on (and I'm sure after some point he was hanging on for survival) there was no safe way to get him off. The initial shock and panic is totally understandable to me, but Bryant still (allegedly) chose to drive toward mailboxes and fixed objects to scrape him off. He's culpable for that.
posted by rocket88 at 1:07 PM on September 2, 2009


lacus: Claiming innocence of the criminal charges and having remorse are two entirely different things, but keep on fighting the good fight, buddy.
posted by rocket88 at 1:09 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


FWIW, here's something from a mountain biker I know who says he has seen video of the accident.

The one video I saw clearly shows the car tapping the cyclist, who appeared to be astride the bike, to the ground. At that point, the car backed up about 3 feet, and attempted to pull around the cyclist to the right. As that manuver unfolded, the cyclist moved very quickly to reach up and grab the side of the car as it sped away...

I'm trying to locate a link for the video.
posted by unSane at 1:18 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


from the witness statements, the driver swerving into traffic, deliberately hitting trees, lights and post boxes, and doing this for 100m, a whole city block, says murderous intent to me, and not just a single snap bad decision.

Again, I don't know. You've tried to get away from the shouting bashing person, and they've held onto your car, and they've continued to hold onto your car after you've made your intent to escape clear. In the States at least, it wouldn't be the height of insanity to conclude that the person must mean to do you serious harm, if only to eliminate you as a witness to the attempted carjack, and that you should get them off your car RIGHT NOW before you get shot.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:19 PM on September 2, 2009


Again, assuming the descriptions we've seen were accurate, which they might not be.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:20 PM on September 2, 2009


Ironically, this thread is pretty much one big fallacy of accident.
posted by anthill at 1:26 PM on September 2, 2009


ROU_Xenophobe: you know, I actually do think that slamming someone who is hanging on to your car into a telephone pole because you speculate that they may have a gun, is pretty much insane, if not homicidal and sociopathic. If it was in order to attempt a hit and run, as many accounts attest, it is despicable.
posted by idiopath at 1:53 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


lacus:

You know, the one lesson all sides can agree to take away from this thread is that acknowledging lacus in any discussion is going to be a waste of time. I hope cyclists and non-cyclists take it to heart.
posted by mediareport at 1:58 PM on September 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


when you are out there on a bike, pretty much every moving or stationary object in view is a real threat...on up to moving hazards like every other vehicle on the road.

This. My left shoulder is screwed up to this day, 38 years later, because I went out biking with friend in college who was blasted on Quaaludes. It can pop out with just a small amount of force if applied in the right direction. I can't wrestle, for example, or play basketball, for another, and have to keep my distance in the pool down. This is the way it happened.

The residential college we belonged to had two really nice touring bikes and we wanted to try them out, so we checked them out one early evening after dinner. I was biking along and had moved ahead by some amount and was wondering where Gary was behind me. I slowed and turned the bike slightly to the left to look back (I know, rookie mistake) just as he came screaming up on me from behind. He knocked me cleanly from the bike and I landed hard on my shoulder, dislocating it painfully and causing me to scream in pain and roll around until it popped back into place. (If you've ever had this happen, you know that the pain is all consuming and immeasurable, and that when the joint returns to its normal configuration, the cessation of pain is like manna from heaven. I don't recommend it.) Gary, on the other hand, on impact pirouetted neatly off his bike landing on his feet next to it facing backwards. "Geez," he says, "You look like you're in pain!" Duh. And you're not. Idiot.

In any event, my life was permanently changed by colliding with another bike. So it ain't just pedestrians and cars.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:11 PM on September 2, 2009


Uh, yeah, ROU_Xenophobe, here in Canada we aren't all packing concealed weapons or afraid that every minor altercation will erupt into murder. There was no weapon, there was no screwdriver wielded by a wild shaking hand. This was a verbal argument which Bryant and Bryant alone chose to escalate to what no amount of panic could justify as being not extreme violence.
posted by kaspen at 2:25 PM on September 2, 2009


I guess we can possibly learn something about how not to deal with someone when you're on foot and the other person is driving a car.

Perhaps more importantly, vice versa.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:26 PM on September 2, 2009


Looking at all history of the cyclist that has been released today, (he was drinking! he has warrants in Manitoba!!, his brother sells drugs!!, he was violent!! he has four kids and isn't married!!!!), Bryant will wind up getting a medal.


And those of us who do cycle in the city will still have to deal with drivers who think that three inches is plenty of passing room.
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 2:32 PM on September 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


Exactly. I empathize strongly with Christine Blatchford's piece in the Globe this morning:
...[I]t is the motorist who has the greater responsibility – not just because he is the only party licensed by society to drive, by which I mean granted the privilege of driving – but because on some level, all of us understand the rules, one of which is that behind the wheel, we are driving a potential weapon. The burden of sucking up the insult, the raised finger, even the punch, and acting like a grown up is always and forever with us.
When you're driving a piece of heavy equipment, like a car, you don't have the luxury of acting like a toddler. It's such a common-place activity though, we forget that.
posted by bonehead at 2:35 PM on September 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


There are idiot/asshole drivers, there are idiot/asshole cyclists, and there are idiot/asshole pedestrians. None have a lock on virtue or vice. It comes down to respecting the life and limb of others. Whoever and wherever you are.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:42 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


One stupid take-away from this thread is that however dangerous mountain biking is (and it certainly is) I feel a lot safer on the trail, even a double black, than I do on a city road.
posted by unSane at 2:52 PM on September 2, 2009


You know, the one lesson all sides can agree to take away from this thread is that acknowledging lacus in any discussion is going to be a waste of time. I hope cyclists and non-cyclists take it to heart.

You know, I might have agreed with you before this comment and the replies, which have been totally worth reading.

Maybe it's sortof like Fred Phelps. A graphic designer where I used to work turned me on to some of his early sermons on his website. Both of us think the guy is crazy, but I actually kindof like listening to his preaching as a kind of performance art (helps that the very first one I heard focuses less on Teh Gay and more on social inequality). Kindof like Scandinavian Death Metal. Ridiculous and over the top, but not without art.
posted by weston at 3:30 PM on September 2, 2009


I think the largest part of the problem on roadways in the "Western world" is the overweening sense of entitlement with which a large number of travelers take to the road, regardless of mode of conveyance.

Oh yes, very much. A few years ago I was in New Delhi, and witnessed an accident between a scooter rider and a car driver; after they bounced off each other, the scooter driver got up without a word and rode away, and the driver went his own way at the same time without getting out to see if there was damage. That scenario is unheard of in the United States, most certainly; at the very least words would have been exchanged and potential damage inspected.

During the same trip, I was also in a car at a traffic light, with tons of other cars crammed in, and someone in a scooter was trying to weave through the cars inch by inch to get to the front. He got stuck right at the driver's mirror, and my driver rolled the window down. I fully expected him to yell at the scooter rider, but he reached out and pulled the mirror in so the rider could continue. By way of comparison, I've lane-split (legal here in CA) at a red light where there's twice the width I need for my scooter, and I get yelled at and middle fingers and revving engines and crap.

It's absolutely an attitude problem as much as a physics one.
posted by davejay at 4:37 PM on September 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Memorial ride for Darcy Allan Shepherd.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:50 PM on September 2, 2009


Good comment davejay. I've seen the same thing in Asia. Much less emphasis on 'who is in the right' and just a commonly shared interest to keep traffic flowing.
posted by Sitegeist at 9:00 PM on September 2, 2009


According the to the police, they are "not denying" that the cyclist grabbed the steering wheel; they are also "not denying" that the cyclist had the driver in a headlock.

Which actually would explain the facts a lot better -- drunk cyclist snaps, assaults driver soon after emotional conflict with girlfriend, causing panic reaction, hence the block long erratic swerve.

And yet, if this version holds (and there is camera footage emerging) the cyclist will still be a hero to many.
posted by Rumple at 9:14 PM on September 2, 2009


And yet, if this version holds (and there is camera footage emerging) the cyclist will still be a hero to many.

as is Rush Limbaugh.
posted by philip-random at 9:55 PM on September 2, 2009


No, really, I have heard the word panic used in reference to murder cases before. The argument is that the person was deathly afraid, therefore not in their right mind, and not accountable for their actions.

But Shepherd really could have stabbed Bryant with a sharpened Twinkie that he kept hidden in his handlebars, a bizarre yet effective hypothetical which will be important for the city's tabloid coverage, as well as for reducing a well-connected politico's murder charges down to a misdemeanor.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:36 AM on September 3, 2009


He's not automatically guilty because he's a politician, Blazecock, any more than he's innocent. Given what we presently know, enraged cyclist seems entirely plausible. Hell, from what I've seen in this thread, it's pretty damn plausible.

Panic is a very real thing; we are, after all, animals, and sometimes the animal reflexes take over. It's easy to sit here in our comfy chairs in our air-conditioned offices and think that we'd never accidentally kill someone who had us in a choke hold, but let me assure you most fervently, it's entirely possible that you would. We're far away from our nonverbal minds when we're typing back and forth like this, but you're most thoroughly in it when some sweaty stranger is trying to kill you. Things ... change when you're in reflex mode.

If, and this is a big if, but IF the cyclist did indeed assault the politician in that way, I can easily see myself doing exactly what that driver did. First instinct: get away, thus hit the gas pedal. Second instinct, get that fucker off my throat... hey that lamppost! When you're in that mindset, the only thing that matters is survival, and what would happen to the cyclist after being removed from the side of your car wouldn't even occur to you. Breathe first, consequences later.
posted by Malor at 3:30 AM on September 3, 2009


I mean, think about it from another angle -- if the cyclist was just hanging onto the car, why wouldn't the driver accelerate in a straight line, scare the hell out of him, and then slow down and let him drop off? The crazed swerving probably indicates a driver in active distress, not one in cool control of the situation.
posted by Malor at 3:31 AM on September 3, 2009


If, and this is a big if, but IF the cyclist did indeed assault the politician in that way, I can easily see myself doing exactly what that driver did.

If, and this is a big if, but IF the motorist did indeed assault the biker by hitting him and then attempting to flee from that scene, I can easily see myself being mad enough to try and stop that car at the scene. It's not hard for me to imagine a cyclist-motorist confrontation going sour fast, too.

Wanting to stop a car is not the same as wanting to attack the driver and right now we have the word of a well connected, system-savvy ex-AG vs a dead man. I hope there is video footage that adds clarity to the moments that preceded this confrontation, as well as add clarity to what happened next.

There is a lot we don't know and Malor's right that nobody is guilty or innocent based on their social position or past.
posted by mazola at 5:18 AM on September 3, 2009


Yeah, it could be either way, or some combination of both.

But note that 'stopping the car' is the deliberate initiation of force, so whether it was the driver or the car being attacked, the cyclist probably has some degree of culpability either way. Not, obviously, death-penalty level, but anywhere from "some" to "a lot".

Whether the driver is at fault, it seems to me, would hinge largely on whether it was a personal assault, or just the cyclist hanging on the car. The weird driving suggests a motorist in distress, rather than just angry, but that's gonna be a hard thing to piece together. Hopefully further evidence will surface.
posted by Malor at 6:45 AM on September 3, 2009


An experienced Toronto bicycle messenger was on the CBC this morning explaining that it's not uncommon for messengers to grab steering wheels and remove keys from the cars of (in their opinion) offending drivers to "get them off the roads". They often throw the keys down sewer grates. He considered this a non-violent and entirely justified tactic.
I predict more tragedies similar to this one until that practice is stopped.
posted by rocket88 at 8:05 AM on September 3, 2009


If Bryant did hit Sheppard with his car, bumping into him from behind deliberately, then that was an assault and a citizen's arrest would have been entirely justified.

I predict more tragedies similar to this one until drivers stop using their vehicles as weapons.
posted by unSane at 8:32 AM on September 3, 2009


after a car purposively knocks a bike down, as in this situation, seems like a reasonable non- violent response.

and in no way a justification for murder; pressing down an the accelerator amounts to a trigger.
posted by lacus at 8:34 AM on September 3, 2009


about this unSane is unWrong.
posted by lacus at 8:35 AM on September 3, 2009


Interesting that if you were to grab onto the steering wheel, and not let go, and the driver accelerated away, your weight would pull the wheel to the left, and the car would tend to drive into the opposite lane.
posted by smackfu at 8:48 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


*tries to take lacus's internet keys away*
posted by rocket88 at 8:52 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Interesting that if you were to grab onto the steering wheel, and not let go, and the driver accelerated away, your weight would pull the wheel to the left, and the car would tend to drive into the opposite lane.

exactly what I was thinking. It takes two to tango ... but someone must lead.
posted by philip-random at 8:57 AM on September 3, 2009


*accelerates violently knocking rocket88 against a pillar of logic and reason*
posted by lacus at 9:08 AM on September 3, 2009


it's not uncommon for messengers to grab steering wheels and remove keys from the cars of (in their opinion) offending drivers to "get them off the roads". They often throw the keys down sewer grates.

Wow -- I'm a pretty non-violent guy, but I think I'd break anybody's arm that tried that on me, and I think the police would probably consider it self defense. I'm surprised this hasn't led to violent confrontations in the past.

I knew that there were angry cyclists before this thread, and of course I've always known there were angry obnoxious drivers, but I never understood the scope and breadth of the car vs. bike animosity before. It appears to be an avocation for pretty large numbers of people. A sad state of affairs, in general.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:35 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


seems to be a car wielded dangerously is death to a biker, just as sure as a gun.

if some psycho was randomly firing a gun in public and you had the ability take it away, would it not be your moral responsibility to do so?
posted by lacus at 9:46 AM on September 3, 2009


Uh, Houston, I think we landed in lacus trolli.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 9:54 AM on September 3, 2009


But Shepherd really could have stabbed Bryant with a sharpened Twinkie that he kept hidden in his handlebars

This is less ridiculous than the idea that someone who is determined enough to grab on to your moving vehicle shouldn't cause you concern.

Bryant's subsequent actions were wrong and probably criminal, but it's reasonable to assume that someone who does what Shepherd did is a threat no matter what they are or aren't carrying.
posted by weston at 10:13 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


It'll be interesting to see how Bryant's case plays out. I can't see him getting very much (any) jail time because of who he is and his ability to play the self-defense card. Upstanding member of society gets into altercation with some drunk undesirable and panics. Some judge is going to hear this story and think "that could have been me", because it really could (they'll both be white, wealthy lawyers, most likely both male as well). Plus obviously just having gone through the trial process will be punishment enough for a guy like Michael Bryant, so adding a custodial term to that would just be excessive.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:31 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


if some psycho was randomly firing a gun in public and you had the ability take it away, would it not be your moral responsibility to do so?

Just how many "psychos" are out there in cars, "wielding" them against bikers in a purposefully murderous fashion? I'd imaging that number to actually be less than gun-wielding murderous psychos, since guns are a more efficient and sure-fire means of killing people once you've cracked and decided to go on a spree, which is to say it's a not-nil number, but it's also not at all a regular occurrence, like the bike messengers mentioned above purport their key-thieving to be.

I can scarcely believe I'm responding to you, but I've got this crazy idea where I can have intelligent discussion, here. Your hyperventilating and false equivalency is NOT helping your "cause" in any way, shape or fashion, and it's certainly not furthering this discussion.

If anything, it's causing me, a cautious and bike-respecting driver, to cast a more jaundiced eye on you and your ilk. Radicalism is antithetical to consensus-building, which is what we really need to be doing, here. In other words, when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:42 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The other day I was waiting for the light to change so I could walk across the street and some guy on an oncoming bike yells at me that I'm standing in his bike lane, giving me an indignant frown as he goes by. As I stepped back on the sidewalk I thought to myself Fuck you, pal. Pedestrians have the right of way at all times..

Another time on my bike, some heavy orthodox guy in a sedan, swerves out into traffic fast causing me to have to swerve as hard as I can so I don't plow into the back of his car, and and end up in the opposite lane, where thankfully there was no oncoming traffic. I ride up beside the driver's window and scream "DON'T YOU HAVE A DICK?" (I'd meant to yell DON"T YOU HAVE A BRAIN, you DICK). He could've killed me.

I was in my car not too long ago and some racing gear bedecked guy on a mega $$$ racing bike (one of those Italian things that weigh less than a pencil), is athletically pedaling away in front of me like its the Tour de France or something, and won't move to the side, so I can go by, finally I lose patience and I yell at him, I yell HEY LANCE, GET THE FUCK OUT THE ROAD! And the guy, turns around, and gives me the finger! You believe that shit?? I gave him the finger right back and just ran him over. Fucker.
posted by Skygazer at 11:00 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I gave him the finger right back and just ran him over.

as in the death of Darcy Allan Sheppard: a reasonable act of self defense.
posted by lacus at 11:17 AM on September 3, 2009


You know, some of you who are arguing that cyclists have the moral high ground over auto drivers based entirely on environmental merit ... and maybe you have something there, but it's awfully un-nuanced way to see the world.

The way it goes is:

Pedestrian > Cyclist > Moped driver > Automobile Driver Who Is Driving a Prius > Guy Who is Driving a Regular Car But is Vegan

This gets a lot harder when a motorcycle rider whose leathers are made entirely out of endangered species gets into an accident with a Prius driving Vegan, but that's why I'm available for individual consultation.
posted by Comrade_robot at 11:19 AM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


in my city a ped is merely motorist who just parked his car, meekly hustling to the next protected environment.

BOO!
posted by lacus at 11:26 AM on September 3, 2009


This is less ridiculous than the idea that someone who is determined enough to grab on to your moving vehicle shouldn't cause you concern.

It sounds like the cyclist was hit by the driver and had to grab at the wheel to keep the driver from fleeing the scene of the crime. The driver then continued to attempt to flee by stepping on the accelerator of his vehicle.

The hit-and-run aspect aside, that's about as far as a panic defense could possibly go, because at that point he commits further violence to the cyclist by using his car as a weapon to drive the cyclist's body into immovable objects.

He then murdered the cyclist by running said person's head underneath the wheel of his vehicle.

Everything that happens once the cyclist is run into the first object isn't panic, it is rage.

The only reasonable defense for the driver is that the cyclist was carrying a sharpened Twinkie and was waving it at the driver with one hand, while holding on to the vehicle with his other hand. Maybe the driver could be reasonably panicked in that hypothetical.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:29 AM on September 3, 2009


An experienced Toronto bicycle messenger was on the CBC this morning explaining that it's not uncommon for messengers to grab steering wheels and remove keys from the cars of (in their opinion) offending drivers to "get them off the roads". They often throw the keys down sewer grates. He considered this a non-violent and entirely justified tactic.

I'm sure he'd agree with me that if his bike ever hits me, I'd be entirely justified in stopping him, ordering him off the bike, and giving it to Igor Kenk. Right?
posted by oaf at 11:43 AM on September 3, 2009


Comrade_robot: on pedantic energy usage grounds, Cyclist should move one spot to the left on your chart, it uses less calories per Kilometer traveled per Kg. of load. To the left of that would be a fully loaded barge.
posted by idiopath at 11:43 AM on September 3, 2009


For anyone who just got here but only wants to read the posts actually involving the incident that started the thread, I recommend doing a find for the word "Toronto". I have never scrolled through so much Mefi in my life, damn. This story is interesting enough w/o all the other nonsense.

Also: if you aren't following the story, it's about the most dramatic 180 media spin I've ever seen. In 48 hours, Bryant has gone from utterly & completely screwed for the rest of his life to looking like he's going to get a knighthood for bravery or something.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:00 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


MICHAEL BRYANT FOR MAYOR!!!!
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 1:15 PM on September 3, 2009


Let me rephrase: it's not nonsense. It's related, quite obviously. The sheer size of the issue completely blew out the actual incident in this thread however, and that frustrates me. In retrospect, perhaps it would have been better discussed in Metatalk or something.

What is most shocking to me about the incident today is the media's handling of the whole issue. Everyone involved in this report should be ashamed of themselves.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:45 PM on September 3, 2009


wow, what a report. no mention of whose foot was on the pedal, that thing that makes the car GO!
posted by lacus at 1:56 PM on September 3, 2009


Bryant's second act after calling his lawyer was to call in a PR firm apparently. This sure looks like an organized campaign by the G&M to demonize the dead man. One of the G&M editors used to by a Bryant staffer. I don't know that one can point a clear finger at G&M bias, but they've been vigorously running "in depth" stories on Mr. Sheppard for the past two days, while other national major outlets (CBC, The National Post, etc...) have moved on to the next part of the news cycle. It is odd, their fixation on Mr. Sheppard's character and living arrangements, however.
posted by bonehead at 1:57 PM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Seems that bicyclists in Minneapolis are now killing each other!
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:20 PM on September 3, 2009


Bryant's second act after calling his lawyer was to call in a PR firm apparently.

Note of course that Bryant is a lawyer himself. Also, that none of the prosecutors can work on his case because they all have a conflict of interest, since he used to be Attorney General, aka their boss. They have to bring in a third-party special prosecutor.
posted by smackfu at 2:27 PM on September 3, 2009


Rebuilding the brand
posted by stinkycheese at 3:44 PM on September 3, 2009


Kelly McParland wrote a piece for the National Post arguing that bicycle lanes have nothing to do with it & wouldn't have made any difference. From the comments, Tim Cares has an interesting appraisal:

First of all, according to the police, he didn't seem drunk. If they can't tell, god help us.

Secondly, what seems to have happened does directly stem from the lack of bike lanes.

According to the police, Mr. Bryant hit the back wheel of Mr. Sheppard's bike. If Mr. Sheppard was in a bike lane, this should not have happened. This intentional hitting of his bike threw Mr. Sheppard into a tizzy because this type of behaviour is very dangerous so he went back to "talk" to the man who tried to injure him.

Mr. Bryant's reaction may have been acceptable were it not for the fact that he instigated the confrontation in the first place by intentionally hitting the man's bike.

This will come out in the next couple of days.

posted by stinkycheese at 3:49 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Argh. Meant to link the piece.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:50 PM on September 3, 2009


It sounds like the cyclist was hit by the driver and had to grab at the wheel to keep the driver from fleeing the scene of the crime.

Assuming this is true -- and it's not clear that it is from several accounts -- what exactly meant the cyclist "had to" do this? Was there no way to get a description of his vehicle? Something wrong with Bryant's license plate? A lack of other witnesses at the original accident scene?

that's about as far as a panic defense could possibly go

A lot of that really depends on Sheperd's behavior. If you don't believe that a person without any weapon can be threatening, I'm sure there's no shortage of people who could convince you otherwise.

because at that point he commits further violence to the cyclist by using his car as a weapon to drive the cyclist's body into immovable objects.

Discounting the possible effects of having someone else tugging at the wheel, yes, and this is where in particular I think that Bryant committed a serious wrong that he should probably go to prison for, despite the fact that it's reasonable to be startled when someone who's agitated grabs your car.

The only reasonable defense for the driver is that the cyclist was carrying a sharpened Twinkie and was waving it at the driver with one hand, while holding on to the vehicle with his other hand. Maybe the driver could be reasonably panicked in that hypothetical.

This part is just bad faith discussion. Cut it out.
posted by weston at 3:56 PM on September 3, 2009


stinkycheese: I have some major issues with some of the framing of that article.

"avid cyclists", "better facilities",

these are phrases that make bicycling sound like a hobby, a recreation, or a sport, rather than a desirable way to go about one's business in an urban area. If bicycling is a hobby, the best solution is nice smooth paths separated from roads that are shaped in a big loop and go nowhere in particular. This is of zero use to people who make the reasonable choice to commute by bicycle in an urban area.

Talking about bicycles as if they were solely a form of recreation does bicycling a serious disservice. Nobody talks about highways as "safe and fun places to go drive your car", people don't complain when "that car was driving on a mixed use street right next to a car only highway designed just for their benefit".

Also, bike lanes are there for cars, not bikes. They are a convenience offered for those motorists who want to be able to pass us as swiftly as possible, they don't make us cyclists all that much safer.
posted by idiopath at 4:22 PM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Assuming this is true -- and it's not clear that it is from several accounts -- what exactly meant the cyclist "had to" do this? Was there no way to get a description of his vehicle? Something wrong with Bryant's license plate? A lack of other witnesses at the original accident scene?

How would the victim have known that he could rely on eyewitness accounts at the time of the incident, given the incident took place late at night, in a car-centric culture that would in most instances otherwise corroborate the driver's story, whatever it might be — even ignoring the fact that the driver is a high-placed government official who has already hired a PR firm to do a smear job on the victim and has otherwise been able to mostly control the public thread about this crime?

At my old job I was good friends with a professor who was riding his motorcycle through Philadelphia. He was the victim of a hit and run accident that broke his leg in several places through the skin. Witnesses were nowhere to be found. It's been almost three years and he's still in rehabilitation.

Another person I knew, a co-worker, hit an unmarked public utilities pothole (PGW) about a foot deep at night and nearly broke his neck. His lawyer let him know that juries in Philadelphia are not friendly to cyclists, in nearly all cases, and that he would need higher standards of proof for filing his case and getting rightful compensation.

While anecdote is not proof, in the car-centric culture we have in North America (both the United States and Canada), I think there is little justification to expect to rely upon eyewitnesses. I can see a compelling reason to forcibly restrain a driver from fleeing the scene of the crime, when necessary.

This is not threatening behavior, but simple common sense. I can see why Sheppard did what he did, because he probably had to, even if the press might reinvent this as "threatening behavior" in light of irrelevant aspects of Sheppard's private life.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:37 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


It sounds like the cyclist was hit by the driver and had to grab at the wheel to keep the driver from fleeing the scene of the crime.

True story: a year or so ago, I witness a ped/car collision; the girl was hit crossing the street as I'm approaching the intersection she was hit in, from the opposite direction of the car that hit her. As the driver took off, I thought to myself, "I'm gonna stop him!" and started to turn my car into the oncoming lane, fully and sincerely intending to take the hit. About half a second later, I realized that I was in a brand-new car and I have kids, and what an incredibly stupid thing to do, and so I stopped perpendicular to his path but not blocking him -- and perfectly set up to get the license plate after he passed. He got caught, the girl was mostly okay, and live went on.

We make incredibly rash decisions in the moment, sometimes incredibly stupid ones, too. I think it's safe to say that whomever did what in this situation, the decisions being made by both parties were exceptionally rash, undeniably stupid (given the outcome), and would be regretted by both parties if both had lived to have the capacity for regret.

And so there but for the grace of God etc. etc. etc.
posted by davejay at 5:00 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


why the fuck do people have a hard seeing the car as a weapon?

it wasn't a neutral device over which they wrestled, the power rest at the foot of a single individual,

and it was wielded with deadly force.
posted by lacus at 5:23 PM on September 3, 2009


The only real bright side of this, is that for the first time I can remember in this city, a bicycle fatality is a headline in all the papers, not a little paragraph buried in the middle of the local section. I'm finding a lot of drivers (although not in my office!) who may not have paid any attention to cyclist issues previously are being a lot more careful around me. I actually feel safer this week.

Too bad the media has all but turned Mr. Bryant into a hero for removing the scum from the streets.
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 5:31 PM on September 3, 2009


According the to the police, they are "not denying" that the cyclist grabbed the steering wheel; they are also "not denying" that the cyclist had the driver in a headlock.

Which actually would explain the facts a lot better -- drunk cyclist snaps, assaults driver soon after emotional conflict with girlfriend, causing panic reaction, hence the block long erratic swerve.


I was camping for the last few days, and only heard the news on CBC radio. Every report had some mention of some witness stating that Sheppard was either headlocking Bryant or wrestling for control of the steering wheel. From that perspective, the wobbling drive seemed likely the result of fighting for control of the vehicle, not a driver trying to scrape a cyclist off the side of his car.

Have the witness reports settled into a likely story about whether Sheppard was caught on the car vs. fighting for control of it?

I can see a compelling reason to forcibly restrain a driver from fleeing the scene of the crime, when necessary.

Wrestling for control of the steering wheel isn't forcibly restraining a driver. It's asking for a vehicular accident, with the wrestler getting the worst of it.

This is not threatening behavior, but simple common sense.

Yes, it is threatening behaviour. If you're trying to get into my car and wrestle control of it from me, that's threatening to me. I don't see how it could be perceived otherwise. I'm not saying stepping on the gas is the right response, but it's a little silly not to see Sheppard's actions as at least risky to him.
posted by fatbird at 5:54 PM on September 3, 2009


If the headlock, holding-onto-steering wheel report is accurate, my neck is going to hurt from the 180 I'm going to have to do in my thinking here, people.
posted by misha at 5:58 PM on September 3, 2009


is that it misha, the first probable explanation offered up from the PR firm is going to sway you, regardless of the fact the Bryant alone held the power to accelerate the vehicle?
posted by lacus at 6:13 PM on September 3, 2009


is that it misha, the first probable explanation offered up from the PR firm is going to sway you, regardless of the fact the Bryant alone held the power to accelerate the vehicle?

It wasn't a PR firm, lacus, it was CBC reporting, and they're generally known for pretty solid journalism. And if (and I stress if) that's accurate, accelerating the vehicle is an understandable panic response. Stupid in hindsight, but it's not hard to imagine a driver thinking that he can pull away from the altercation.
posted by fatbird at 6:21 PM on September 3, 2009


How would the victim have known that he could rely on eyewitness accounts at the time of the incident,

I don't think it matters. No matter how unreliable you think the other people around you are, no matter if there's nobody, holding onto a fleeing vehicle is the kind of thing you do only if you're in the grip of an emotion that leads you to disregard your own safety.

And while I can believe that law might not do a good job of compensating cyclists who run afoul of road hazards, the idea that witnesses would be unreliable because of cultural biases which would cause them to automatically side with whoever is in an automobile is pretty tenuous.

At my old job I was good friends with a professor who was riding his motorcycle through Philadelphia. He was the victim of a hit and run accident that broke his leg in several places through the skin. Witnesses were nowhere to be found. It's been almost three years and he's still in rehabilitation.

Dueling anecdotes are fun: I was part of a group that was assaulted in Slidell LA a while back -- large lunch cooler and food thrown at us. Despite the fact they were driving slowly as they went off, we didn't chase down the assailants on foot in even in their unintimidating VW beetle, we got the license plate and had the police at their door that night. I've done the same thing with several behaviors of reckless driving I've witnessed. Cars have plates for a reason, and my experience is that the authorities take reports on them seriously.

This is not threatening behavior, but simple common sense. I can see why Sheppard did what he did, because he probably had to

I can't take seriously the idea that it is common sense to hold onto a moving vehicle, no matter how good your reasons are for wanting it to stop.

I also can't see that his reasons are even particularly good -- is there really such a strong imperative to keep a driver at the scene of an accident allegedly with no serious injuries that he had to resort to behavior that was quite likely to lead to them? He didn't have to do anything other than walk away, really, just like thousands of people do daily from all kinds of accidents that could have been a lot worse, saying "no harm, no foul." If he really wanted to follow up, I don't see how you can argue that taking a description of the car and the plate and talking to a person or two around him would have been a less sensible course. There may be a potentially increased risk of a driver getting away with something he shouldn't have in that case, but the drastically decreased risk of an encounter escalating into violence pretty much offsets that.

even if the press might reinvent this as "threatening behavior" in light of irrelevant aspects of Sheppard's private life.

Sheppard's behavior looks threatening independent of any of the aspects of his private life which are under discussion. I think it's credible where there's a report of a PR firm being hired to assume there's some manipulation going on to make him look less sympathetic, but unless you have information that suggests he was not drunk, he did not act aggressively toward Bryant, and most of all that he did not attach himself to the car and continue to hold on and try to get at him while it was moving, the idea that he was threatening him seems perfectly reasonable.
posted by weston at 6:26 PM on September 3, 2009


wait a minute. of course Bryant could have none of the information about Sheppard that has come to light as of late. so scratch that.

if Sheppard was still drunk that could certainly inform the situation, but it is still inaccurate to suggest being drunkeness is probable cause for lethal force.

i think we can assume that Sheppard DID act aggressively towards Bryant considering Bryant had just ran his car into Sheppard's bike.

given that Bryant initiated the violence and then finished it with a lethal blow kinda renders the events in between in consequential.
posted by lacus at 6:48 PM on September 3, 2009


idiopath: I completely agree about the framing of the NP article.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:53 PM on September 3, 2009


but unless you have information that suggests he was not drunk

Um, shouldn't the onus be on proving he was drunk. So far we have police on record letting him go on his way because they thought he was fine to proceed. He's either drunk or he's not.

On the other hand, Bryant was having an anniversary dinner with his wife. Did he have a drink? Did anyone ask? Or is it that not polite to ask?

The only thing I want to see in this particular case is a fair examination of the facts and my fear is that the truth gets replaced by a reasonable explanation from an upstanding man.
posted by mazola at 7:47 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


With respect to the comment about throwing car keys down a sewer grate, I asked a couple of Toronto couriers if they had ever heard of this tactic. They called bullshit, and I tend to agree. Not only would be reaching in a car's window, across the driver, around the steering wheel, turning off the car if necessary, and pulling out the key be nearly impossible, it would almost certainly lead to:
-extreme escalation of the situation
-police involvement (at least a police report, when the car blocking traffic needs to get towed)
-insane news coverage ("crazy biker disables car, leaves family man stranded for hours in traffic").

It smacks of a dirty, mudslinging, character assassinating PR campaign.

That's not to say that it doesn't happen; who am I to say what goes on with couriers after getting a couple of second-hand opinions. But paying any attention to that sort of nonsensical hearsay does nothing for this case, this city, or any of the people involved.

My biggest fear is that (as suggested in the original post) this will become a touchstone issue for how the issue of urban cycling is handled in Toronto. It is worse than ignorant to allow this issue to frame the discussion on how to appropriately share our urban space - because we do not have a problem with crazed bikers attacking law abiding drivers just as we don't have homicidal drivers out for cyclist blood. The people on the road are your neighbours. If you don't know at least a few people who primarily bike, a few people who primarily take transit and a few people who primarily drive, you probably don't live in a real city. The question for me is: why are we treating our neighbours like shit?
posted by aquafiend at 8:18 PM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


If you drive, next morning try starting your car, then getting out, reaching in the window, and trying to turn off the car and take the key out, without reaching into space that the driver would occupy. It's a little harder than it sounds. Especially with that key lock, you know, where you turn it too far to the 'lights on' position...

Aquafiend has it, this is just storytelling.

It's also frustrating how couriers are being waved around as archetypical cyclists. It's like someone generalizing New York cabbies to all motorists, or Hells Angels to motorcyclists.
posted by anthill at 8:55 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Saab ignition is located in the center console if I recall ...
posted by lacus at 9:06 PM on September 3, 2009


I guess everything has already been said here, in this neverending debate about cyclists & road rules.

But perhaps not this: as a cycle commuter (and only slightly less so as a driver as well) God, it FUCKING PISSES ME THE HELL OFF the way that 50% or more of drivers treat their indicators as completely optional, or as a mere formality to flick on for a single flash or two, and only when they are halfway through turning or changing lanes.

Indicators are there for a reason, assholes. This reason is that they signal to other road users what you fucking intend to do, so others can plan & adjust & accommodate your intentions with greater safety.

Communicating your intentions in advance doesn't work if you think it's too much effort to flick a tiny lever with your finger, or if you only do so at the very last second.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:29 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some of you are placing a whole lot of emphasis on this "Bryant hit Sheppard first" assertion, as if this entirely justifies Sheppard's assault on Bryant.

Well, before this "hit", there allegedly was some sort of issue over Bryant wanting to turn right, and Sheppard refusing to move.

If Bryant's car actually hit Sheppard's bike, the rear wheel would be bent, the bike would have gone over, and surely this would have been witnessed. I suspect that if anything, Bryant may have nudged the bike's rear wheel; good accelerant for an argument, but hardly the sort of "crime" worth assaulting the driver over. This was a pissing match that went horribly wrong.

It's not PR spin if the whole headlock & steering-wheel grab thing is what actually happened. The spinners are the ones trying to make this unfortunate incident the poster-child for demonizing all drivers.

When this finally goes to trial, I'll be wanting some nickels.
posted by Artful Codger at 6:54 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


A "nudge" with a machine that heavy and powerful is a violent act.
posted by idiopath at 7:01 AM on September 4, 2009


I suspect that if anything, Bryant may have nudged the bike's rear wheel; good accelerant for an argument, but hardly the sort of "crime" worth assaulting the driver over.

I suspect this is where the divide of car vs bike rears its ugly head. As a biker I can tell you for damn certain a nudge isn't a way to communicate between vehicles but is an attempt on my life. Drivers should understand this.
posted by mazola at 7:11 AM on September 4, 2009


agreed mazola, but if this nudge happened here it was as part of the pissing match, and not the sole initial incident as some would have you believe.

(BTW I cycle in downtown Toronto too, not as much as I'd like, but enough to know how to survive it)
posted by Artful Codger at 7:16 AM on September 4, 2009


"a threatened or attempted physical attack by someone who appears to be able to cause bodily harm if not stopped" (assault defintion 2)

I am pretty sure that nudging a bicycle with a car qualifies as assault.
posted by idiopath at 7:17 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


> I am pretty sure that nudging a bicycle with a car qualifies as assault.

Ok. Then there's no disagreement that putting a driver in a headlock, grabbing at the steering wheel, and reaching for the keys would constitute assault with intent to harm, as well? I have the feeling that many here think Sheppards assault on Bryant was somehow lawful or a citizen's arrest.

(Damn, I didn't mean to get into this. I'm doing exactly what I detest about this thread - endless theorizing and pontificating about an event we all know rather little about. Apologies)
posted by Artful Codger at 7:26 AM on September 4, 2009


the whole incident was a single event, starting with a nudge and ending with a death.
posted by lacus at 7:30 AM on September 4, 2009


I guess everything has already been said here, in this neverending debate about cyclists & road rules.

But perhaps not this: as a car commuter (and only slightly less so as a cyclist as well) God, it FUCKING PISSES ME THE HELL OFF the way that 50%* or more of cyclists treat their hand signals as completely optional, or as a mere formality for a quick wave, and only when they are halfway through turning or changing lanes.

Hand signals are there for a reason, assholes. This reason is that they signal to other road users what you fucking intend to do, so others can plan & adjust & accommodate your intentions with greater safety.

Communicating your intentions in advance doesn't work if you think it's too much effort to signal, or if you only do so at the very last second.

* By 50%, I mean 90%

seriously, cyclists, if you find it is so dangerous to ride that you have to ride on the sidewalk, ride on another fucking route instead of scaring the shit out of the pedestrians. If there is no other route, get a fucking bus pass. If you can't safely signal your intentions with your hand, then you are going too fast. And if you draft one foot off my rear bumper again down Foul Bay hill, like you did yesterday, then I will fucking brake check your spandexed ass.
posted by Rumple at 7:31 AM on September 4, 2009


As I have stated before, they were being dangerous assholes, the both of them. Neither of them did anything justified, from the stories I have heard. I could give a shit about this bike messenger, he was real dumbass as far as I can see.

What I care about is where people seem to have dangerous attitudes about what is proper behavior to exhibit or expect from others on the road. Nudging someone with a car is an attack. This does not justify the subsequent attack on the driver. But it is an attack. If you agree to that, than I think we pretty much have consensus about this situation.
posted by idiopath at 7:32 AM on September 4, 2009


agreed mazola, but if this nudge happened here it was as part of the pissing match, and not the sole initial incident as some would have you believe.

We really don't know what the exact sequence of events was so the comments on both sides are based more on what we feel than any 'reality'.

That said, I find it strange that some people seem to find reasonable to say 'the driver felt threatened so I can understand/forgive/sympathize with his panicked actions' while failing to acknowledge the equivalent 'the biker felt threatened so I can understand/forgive/sympathize with his panicked actions'.
posted by mazola at 7:33 AM on September 4, 2009


> the whole incident was a single event, starting with a nudge and ending with a death.

Poetic as that is, you don't know that it started there.

> ...I find it strange that some people seem to find reasonable to say 'the driver felt threatened so I can understand/forgive/sympathize with his panicked actions' while failing to acknowledge the equivalent 'the biker felt threatened so I can understand/forgive/sympathize with his panicked actions'.

Oh come on. Bike couriers deal with cars 200+ days a year. And wailing on a driver is hardly a panic defensive response. And I haven't forgiven anyone anything yet. Asshattery all round. Which makes backing your favourite asshat so pointless.

(I'm still hating myself. I'll try harder)
posted by Artful Codger at 7:43 AM on September 4, 2009


"You find it strange"? It just seems like human nature: people have chosen their sides, and every new piece of evidence is seen through that filter.
posted by smackfu at 7:50 AM on September 4, 2009


A good rear wheel costs a couple of hundred dollars to replace; it's not insignificant.

Even so, if some asshat is wrestling with you for control of the steering wheel, is the right thing to do continue to accelerate? If that's Bryant's defense, it's going to be hard to prove. Was it necessary to kill Sheppard to prevent him from killing either the driver or the passenger? Self-defense as a defense to killing someone is very high bar to prove in court.

The charge against Bryant is that he willfully disregarded the risks to Sheppard's life by making the choices he did. Intent is much harder to prove; on reflection I'm sure the Crown chose charges of criminal negligence and dangerous driving because they don't rely on proving intent.

So, if proven, the answer to my first question is no, it is not reasonable to stomp on the gas to try to get away from an angry cyclist (or pedestrian for that matter) whom you've just run over. Based on the unfiltered witnesses posted on various websites on Monday morning, I find that convincing. If upon reviewing the evidence, you disagree, that the death of Sheppard was as a result of a reasonable set of actions on Bryant's part, then well, we disagree.

I find the PR shit so insidious because it has nothing at all to do with that decision. It doesn't matter if Sheppard was a drunk, a small-time felon or a dead-beat dad, as the Globe has painted him over the past few days. Nothing Sheppard apparently did at the scene required Bryant to act to save his own life or that of his wife in the passenger seat. That's why Bryant needs to go to jail.
posted by bonehead at 8:38 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I agree it's not relevant, but I think the most surprising thing is that the cyclist had an encounter with the police, where he had a ton of outstanding warrants including a missed court appearance, and he wasn't arrested.
posted by smackfu at 8:42 AM on September 4, 2009


Just in case anyone still cares, I think Artful Codger has won the WHO-REALLY-CAUSED-WHAT tangent of this thread. Emphasis mine:

Well, before this "hit", there allegedly was some sort of issue over Bryant wanting to turn right, and Sheppard refusing to move.

If Bryant's car actually hit Sheppard's bike, the rear wheel would be bent, the bike would have gone over, and surely this would have been witnessed. I suspect that if anything, Bryant may have NUDGED the bike's rear wheel; good accelerant for an argument, but hardly the sort of "crime" worth assaulting the driver over. This was a pissing match that went horribly wrong.

It's not PR spin if the whole headlock & steering-wheel grab thing is what actually happened. The spinners are the ones trying to make this unfortunate incident the poster-child for demonizing all drivers.

posted by philip-random at 8:48 AM on September 4, 2009


If Bryant's car actually hit Sheppard's bike, the rear wheel would be bent

A bent rim would be a good piece of physical evidence here. Please note, rims can be warped (they don't need to be folded over). I've been hit by a car that rolled through a stop sign, clipping my rear wheel. I could still ride my bike, but the rim was warped and not repairable. You could not determine that just by eyeballing the bike at a distance.

I just don't think the evidence is to make a determination of anything.
posted by mazola at 9:05 AM on September 4, 2009


"If I actually hit your head with the baseball bat, you would have missing teeth"

The issue isn't how hard the bike was hit. It is that intentionally pushing your car into a bike is inexcusable.
posted by idiopath at 9:07 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


And note that when I say bent rim would be a good piece of physical evidence here, I don't think it is an absolute determiner of anything.
posted by mazola at 9:15 AM on September 4, 2009


exactly idiopath. but even 'pushing you car into a bike' minimizes what should and will be considered assault with a deadly weapon.

conversations, even heated ones, are legal. the incident starts with the assault.
posted by lacus at 9:17 AM on September 4, 2009


Indicators are there for a reason, assholes. This reason is that they signal to other road users what you fucking intend to do, so others can plan & adjust & accommodate your intentions with greater safety.

Although a derail, I completely agree with the sentiment. I also recognize that it is behavior sometimes driven by other asshole drivers' behavior: when they see the signal indicating a desire to move into their lane ahead of them, they speed up to close the gap. Not everyone, not even a majority, but it does make some people shy about signaling their intention ahead of time. I think this leads to the dysfunctional brief flashing of signal as the lane is being changed. Sort of, well, I don't want to give you too much warning because you might try to prevent my moving over, but, hey, I don't want to break the law!

I think there are two distinct mind-sets among drivers. One treats the road as if it were a queue and they'll be damned if anyone is going to take cuts in from of them. The other mind-set is that we're all trying to get where we're going, so let's look out for each other and keep traffic flowing smoothly. The two don't mix well, in my observation.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:25 AM on September 4, 2009


...bent rim would be a good piece of physical evidence here...

I still don't get this argument. Why does it matter how the argument started? It matters not at all that this started as a collision between a cyclist and a driver. The only choice that matters in all of this was Bryant's between trying to get away and Sheppard's safety. Was it reasonable to accelerate or more reasonable to stop? That's all that matters.

The panic and rage defenses attempt to mitigate the reasonableness of the choice. Unfortunately for Bryant, that's a very high bar in Canada, and only applies in the extremity of immanent danger to life: self-defense.

The rest of is confusion and projection and ultimately meaningless in the judgment of his guilt or innocence. Bryant's choice under pressure is ultimately the only thing that matter here.
posted by bonehead at 9:35 AM on September 4, 2009


I still don't get this argument. Why does it matter how the argument started? It matters not at all that this started as a collision between a cyclist and a driver.

Because honest to Pete, having a car hit you feels like an attempt on your life. That's my experience anyway. And when your life has been threatened you are rarely at your best and rage is a typical next reaction. And that's not an unprovoked attack, that's a defensive response.

And having an angry person approach your car feels like a physically threatening (life threatening?) experience. And a typical reaction is fear and you want to flee. And that's not attacking someone, that's a defensive response.

And here we are.
posted by mazola at 9:44 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree it's not relevant, but I think the most surprising thing is that the cyclist had an encounter with the police, where he had a ton of outstanding warrants including a missed court appearance, and he wasn't arrested.

These are the same police who, in the past year, have responded to all of the following by sitting there and watching it happen:So, yeah, the fact that he had 61 outstanding warrants and wasn't arrested doesn't exactly surprise me.
posted by oaf at 10:11 AM on September 4, 2009


I've been hit by a car too, and tended to a few cyclists who have been as well.

The question is, though, does that provocation rise to the level of self-defense? It's a very high bar:

Self-Defence In Case Of Aggression: 35. Every one who has without justification assaulted another but did not commence the assault with intent to cause death or grievous bodily harm, or has without justification provoked an assault on himself by another, may justify the use of force subsequent to the assault if
(a) he uses the force
(i) under reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm from the violence of the person whom he has assaulted or provoked, and
(ii) in the belief, on reasonable grounds, that it is necessary in order to preserve himself from death or grievous bodily harm;
(b) he did not, at any time before the necessity of preserving himself from death or grievous bodily harm arose, endeavour to cause death or grievous bodily harm; and
(c) he declined further conflict and quitted or retreated from it as far as it was feasible to do so before the necessity of preserving himself from death or grievous bodily harm arose.
[R.S. c.C-34, s.35.]

Panic or rage isn't a sufficient defence. You have to believe that harm is immanent and further take actions that are reasonable to avoid that harm. In other words, if Bryant could have diffused or mitigated the situation by doing something other than accelerating, then self-defence, and all of the mitigating factors that are under discussion here, does not apply.
posted by bonehead at 10:11 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


police don't arrest protesters, storm troopers do.
posted by lacus at 10:23 AM on September 4, 2009


there it is, thanks bonehead.
posted by lacus at 10:27 AM on September 4, 2009


(a) he uses the force
(i) under reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm from the violence of the person whom he has assaulted or provoked, and
(ii) in the belief, on reasonable grounds, that it is necessary in order to preserve himself from death or grievous bodily harm;


Sounds like panic to me.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:54 AM on September 4, 2009


Sure, that's part of it, but one's actions after the provocation have to be reasonable too: part c, above. If he could have stopped this by stopping the car and getting out, he can't avail himself of this defence. All of the above sections 35(a), (b) and (c) are necessary for a claim of self-defence. Panic speaks to (a), but it doesn't help for (c).
posted by bonehead at 10:57 AM on September 4, 2009


police don't arrest protesters, storm troopers do.

not if the protesters use the force.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:29 AM on September 4, 2009


Um, shouldn't the onus be on proving he was drunk. So far we have police on record letting him go on his way because they thought he was fine to proceed. He's either drunk or he's not.

Fair enough, and I don't know how important his BAC is anyway. Whether or not alcohol played a role, it's the behavior that matters.

Because honest to Pete, having a car hit you feels like an attempt on your life. That's my experience anyway. And when your life has been threatened you are rarely at your best and rage is a typical next reaction. And that's not an unprovoked attack, that's a defensive response.

I agree this helps you understand Sheppard, but the thing is, this is pretty much the same defense for Bryant's behavior.

Yes, there's an initial difference in who started in what kind of vehicle, but if you're going to argue that threats create rage which creates problems in judgment, then the only difference we're talking about here is one of degree, and by the time we're talking about someone still holding onto your car while you're driving off (much less accounts of wrestling for the wheel), even the difference of degrees is getting smaller.

In the end, though, I don't really agree that the problems of rage excuse either person's behavior however it helps with understanding it. A civil society expects people to check their rage. Neither of them should have escalated the way they did.
posted by weston at 3:28 PM on September 4, 2009


Meet the defence.

Also, from the comments:
Syed Abbas (9/5/2009 12:30:29 PM)
What Mr. Bryant should have done is what any reasonable, mature, male should have. When his car hit the cycle (or when the cycle hit the car), Mr. Bryant should have gotten out of his car, asked of the welfare of the cyclist despite the latter's angry disposition, see if he needed any help, and exchanged indentifications for further process.

and

CinToronto (9/5/2009 11:35:40 AM)
What I find interesting is that there has been no mention of Bryant's well-known temper. Lots of background info about Sheppard, but absolutely nothing pertaining to Bryant's character.
posted by mazola at 9:41 AM on September 5, 2009


Compilation of surveillance videos.
posted by mazola at 11:19 PM on September 5, 2009


... says a veteran Toronto criminal lawyer, loath to have his name published. "Look, the headline on this story should be: `Navigator, changing your perceptions without you even knowing it.'"
Spinning the first week of Michael Bryant's new life.
posted by mazola at 9:12 PM on September 6, 2009


That article seems to be insinuating that the headlock / grabbing the steering wheel allegations came from Bryant's PR firm. Or am I misreading?
posted by idiopath at 9:21 PM on September 6, 2009


You are not misreading.

Look at the video of the security tapes too (turn your sound off). The sequence of events seems to be:

1) Sheppard passes the stationary Bryant and moves in front of him (cuts him off?)
2) Bryant lurches forward (taps him?)
3) Pause (about 3 seconds) Bryant forcefully moves forward (Sheppard on hood?)
-- here is where it is cut to a different camera. Unsure of timing of events
4) Bryant reverses. Sheppard is seen in FRONT of the car (headbeams shining on him); moves to the side of the car's path (towards his bike)
5) Bryant goes forward and turns out of the lane to flee. Sheppard runs towards driver side door and grabs on.

From the looks of things, Sheppard grabs on after Bryant chooses to flee. This directly contradicts the story of Sheppard leaning into the car THEN Bryant driving off.

Bryant is shown to use his car aggressively TWICE before he decides to flee. Sheppard never appears to get closer than the front of his car.

Honestly, from the video I think a case could be made for manslaughter or murder.
posted by mazola at 10:14 PM on September 6, 2009


So far, the surveillance videos show absolutely nothing, though the "YOU'RE GUILTY" soundtrack is a nice touch. I mean seriously, you have to have a pretty dull axe to see anything either way in that crap youtube.

I really haven't heard much about Sheppard's "background information" either if by "background information" the poster means things like "has a temper". The facts of the two men's backgrounds and their activities on the night of are not really in disupute --- Sheppard had multiple arrest warrants, had been drinking, had been detained briefly by the police once already that night, and was by profession an aggressive bicycle rider. Whether he had a temper or was a sweetheart, who knows? I don't. Bryant was out for dinner and there is no evidence he had been drinking, nor is there any evidence being brought forward he is a shady personailty. Maybe he has a temper, maybe he doesn't, who knows. I don't. But the actions and history of the two, not their character, are what is at issue here. It's obviously terrible anytime someone dies before their time, but persecuting Bryant doesn't suddenly make everything ok. He'll get his day in court and is as likely to be treated more rigorously due to his position as less rigorously. Meanwhile, Sheppard should probably get the Darwin award.

I am usually not one of the first to defend the privileged or give them the benefit of the doubt, but it seems to me that most likely Sheppard put himself in a dangerous position, perhaps provoked by a fender-bender-equivalent, went apeshit, obtained an extreme and unpredicted reaction, and unluckily died. If any good comes from this, it will be that Toronto's insanely aggressive bike couriers with their overblown sense of entitlement to ride anywhere, anyhow they fucking please, will tone it down a notch in the context of a new relationship on the roads.

On preview: LOL. You have got to be fucking kidding me. You can't tell a damn thing on that video and as you suggest ("turn the sound down" - so you don't hear the "crucify him" soundtrack) it could be edited in any order, and based on the source, probably was. Any video that needs three simultaneous arrows pointing out what is going on is pretty worthless and so far evidence for nothing.
posted by Rumple at 10:33 PM on September 6, 2009


So far, the surveillance videos show absolutely nothing, though the "YOU'RE GUILTY" soundtrack is a nice touch. I mean seriously, you have to have a pretty dull axe to see anything either way in that crap youtube.

I think there are two types of dull axes: those that would think the video explained everything and those that think it showed nothing.

I would think the sequence of events leading up to the altercation would have some relevance to this case as would Sheppard's proximity to Bryant when Bryant made the decision to flee.

At minimum, the video provides some objective insight into both of these pieces.

You're correct, the video cannot (and does not) tell the entire story but at least it does provide something concrete to examine to evaluate against PR spin and pure speculation.


I am usually not one of the first to defend the privileged or give them the benefit of the doubt, but it seems to me that most likely Sheppard put himself in a dangerous position, perhaps provoked by a fender-bender-equivalent, went apeshit, obtained an extreme and unpredicted reaction, and unluckily died.

If it's true, the evidence should bear that out. I would think you would be interested to test your theory against what is shown in the video.


If any good comes from this, it will be that Toronto's insanely aggressive bike couriers with their overblown sense of entitlement to ride anywhere, anyhow they fucking please, will tone it down a notch in the context of a new relationship on the roads.

Well so long as you're being objective about this...


On preview:

You can't tell a damn thing on that video and as you suggest ("turn the sound down" - so you don't hear the "crucify him" soundtrack) it could be edited in any order, and based on the source, probably was

Well, I don't think it could be edited in any order. The three security cam footage segments they show are in the correct order (1. approach & initial event; 2. leaving the scene; 3. the final drive). They are from three different cameras so it is hard to know where the events of one pass along to the events of the next (as said before, is there overlap? a gap?) and you're right, the footage should be evaluated in this context.
posted by mazola at 7:11 AM on September 7, 2009


One thing I've learned from all this is to no longer fear the proliferation of security cameras as a threat to my privacy. I've seen 1930's era video that was clearer than those clips.
posted by rocket88 at 9:30 AM on September 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Note that the video on youtube is: 1) second generation (looks like it was camcordered from a TV); and 2) a youtube video.
posted by mazola at 9:33 AM on September 7, 2009


Compilation of surveillance videos.

Even with the annotations, I can't tell what the fuck was happening in those videos. Rorschach test, IMO.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:11 AM on September 7, 2009


The video footage looks pretty clear to me once you run through it a few times with the pause button (and without the annotations).

CLIP 1

1. Bryant's stopped at a light. Sheppard comes past on the driver's side and stops in front of the car.

2. Bryant makes a couple of moves, then accelerates forward hard. Sheppard is knocked off his bike and onto the hood of the Saab.

CLIP 2

1. Sheppard gets up off the ground, moving fairly slowly.

2. As soon as he does, Bryant backs up 6-10 feet, turns, and then accelerates forward past Sheppard. You can't see Sheppard grab onto the car, but he is at least 8 feet away from Bryant when Bryant hits the gas and clearly represents no threat. Bryant is already moving pretty fast when Sheppard grabs on.

3. The car accelerates away leaving the bike in the road.

CLIP 3

The car heads over to the wrong side of the road and continues at speed. It does not appear to slow at all. Nothing else can be made out.
posted by unSane at 3:33 PM on September 7, 2009


Even with the annotations, I can't tell what the fuck was happening in those videos. Rorschach test, IMO.

You can't tell a damn thing on that video


Clearly, you guys have never watched CSI. All the detectives need to do is enrol the services of a computer geek:

"Hey, pause there - can you increase the resolution of this frame?"

*geek highlights area on screen, clicks mouse. image becomes sharp as a razor*

"Now, rotate it so we are viewing from behind at a 45 degree elevation"

*a few more mouseclicks. image rotates as requested*

"Great. Now, what if you do a 3D animation that fills in the missing frames between the end of the first clip & the beginning of the second clip...?"

*clickety-click; animation appears on screen as requested*

"Wait, what on earth is that thing behind the grassy knoll?!?? Quick! Zoom in on it!!!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:10 PM on September 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


The video footage looks pretty clear to me once you run through it a few times with the pause button (and without the annotations).

unSane, your powers of perception are far beyond mine then. I mean, I could kind of guess at those sorts of things since I had read the various links, but as stand-alone info, I'd just be guessing. I stand by the Rorschach evalution.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:40 AM on September 8, 2009


unSane verifies what I could see.

A lot might depend on: 1) your monitor and settings; 2) your eyesight; 3) your experience
posted by mazola at 10:47 AM on September 8, 2009


A lot might depend on: 1) your monitor and settings; 2) your eyesight; 3) your experience

I'd be interested in presenting this to an uninformed viewer and asking them to interpret what was going on. My money would be on "No."
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:39 PM on September 8, 2009


Well hopefully the court will hire experts who can analyze it using accepted techniques and standards.
posted by mazola at 1:49 PM on September 8, 2009


Why would you want to do that? When you examine something like this you use all the available evidence.
posted by unSane at 1:49 PM on September 8, 2009


I guess I'm saying that it appears to me pretty useless in being able to discriminate between reasonable alternative explanations for what happened. So, like a Rorschach test, it is only good at bringing out preconceptions. But maybe I'm wrong. A test of my hypothesis would be whether anyone could make sense of the video without having a prespecified narrative. Does that make sense?
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:41 PM on September 8, 2009


What alternative narratives do the videos seem to be consistent with to you?
posted by unSane at 7:55 PM on September 8, 2009


Honestedits has put up a copy with better video quality. His annotations seem pretty plausible to me. I can't imagine an alternate narrative that would make sense. What was said (if anything) can be speculated at, but is irrelevant to the criminal charges.
posted by anthill at 8:04 PM on September 8, 2009


Michael Bryant's political strategy: PR 2.0
posted by mazola at 9:38 PM on September 8, 2009


Well, for example, in my viewing, you can't tell if the car actually touched the bicycle. Wouldn't this be a critical question? Or maybe I misunderstand the problem.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:55 AM on September 9, 2009


Mental Wimp: I agree that it's not clear if the car 'bluff charge' at 0:14 actually hit the bike's back wheel. But by the full-bore charge at 0:17, the bike and rider are both on the hood, so to me it doesn't matter.
posted by anthill at 5:59 AM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am pretty sure the car had to at least touch the bike for the guy to end up on his hood like that.
posted by idiopath at 6:01 AM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyhoop, why do I get the feeling the whole motive behind the PR firm has at least two goals: 1) manage the message (as best as can); or at the very least 2) have everybody talking about this.

Could Point 2 could be used as a tool for jury selection in the future? How might this impact challenges for cause?
posted by mazola at 6:55 AM on September 9, 2009


And in point 2) 'talking' means 'forming an opinion about'.
posted by mazola at 6:56 AM on September 9, 2009


I would be very surprised if Bryant opts for a jury trial.
posted by bonehead at 9:29 AM on September 9, 2009


I would think one strategy would be to opt for a very confusable jury.

Why do you think he'd opt for judge-only?
posted by mazola at 9:56 AM on September 9, 2009


Judge-only trials are usually chosen when the defense thinks that a) the general public isn't sympathetic to the defendant or b) when the defense's argument is legalistic or technical. From all the reports I've read, Bryant appears to be considering a self-defense argument, a fairly technical defense. Both cases seem to apply here. In this scenario, he truly thinks he's innocent; the PR firm is engaged because he thinks he has a political future. He is a narcissist and it never does pay to underestimate narcissism. I think this the most likely case.

On the flip side, if he (or his lawyers) think the Crown has a good case, all the PR may be an attempt to gain advantage in court. Is Bryant's strategy to poison the jury pool? Are shut-ins what he wants on his jury? Perhaps he thinks they'll be easy to snow? Is he looking for a change of venue and a possibly-more sympathetic jury? I think that's less likely, but still possible.
posted by bonehead at 10:29 AM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mental Wimp: I agree that it's not clear if the car 'bluff charge' at 0:14 actually hit the bike's back wheel. But by the full-bore charge at 0:17, the bike and rider are both on the hood, so to me it doesn't matter.

So you're talking about the part of the video where it looks like inverse color and everything is really just smudges? I can make out a car and some object in front of it of indistinct form, but on my computer I can't really see what happens. The car moves forward a bit, then stops, then proceeds straight ahead, but I can't really see what happens to the thing in front of it (presumably the guy on the bike). It doesn't refute what you are saying with what I can see, but it doesn't affirm it either. The other parts of the video are clearer, but even they don't show me anything clearly. Is my monitor (Dell 19" LCD) the problem or do I have a bad renderer or something? I'm feeling a little bit strange about this because others seem so sure that they can see these things unequivocally, and my perception is at least average, I believe.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:28 PM on September 9, 2009


I just downloaded the file from the video on the youtube link, and frame by framed through, with the intention of exporting some images showing what I saw. Taking it frame by frame in my video editor, it is ambiguous whether he is pushed up onto the hood of the car or he jumps out of the way (strangely I still see him land on the hood playing at full speed, but that is probably just my mind playing tricks on me).

What is definitely visible frame by frame: bicyclist does not move / get pushed out of the way until car has started moving this second time

I think this supports a working hypothesis that both of these guys were being arrogant assholes, and one was using his vehicle as a weapon to threaten the other (do let me know if I am getting something wrong here).
posted by idiopath at 5:15 PM on September 9, 2009


It may be that Mr. Bryant's only crime was to be in the wrong place with the top down. We'll see. Meantime, his is a cautionary tale: Don't become a public figure who's guilty of privilege, ambition and Saab-driving – or it could happen to you.
Morality play and a stampede to judgment*.

I do have trouble with the hiring of a PR firm in the moments after the incident.

There is nothing I would like to see more than Bryant having a fair day in court. If, after that, he is found not guilty (or whatever) I think it's entirely appropriate to task a PR firm with rebuilding your image.

Navigator prides itself, after all, on being able to "take an issue that has been looked at, sometimes for years, and radically shift perspective to reveal new insights". What's the rush now then except to influence outcome?

----
*God I hate Margaret Wente

posted by mazola at 8:59 AM on September 10, 2009


*God I hate Margaret Wente

I share this sentiment.
posted by molecicco at 9:07 AM on September 10, 2009


*God I hate Margaret Wente

I've never been a fan at all but I just read the article and sorry but I'm finding it hard to HATE. Yes, that last line, quoted out of context, reads as quite obnoxious ... but sorry, the rest of the article just reads as one more opinion on a remarkably complex and revealing Situation.

Is it her assertion that in Toronto "... cycling has become ridiculously politicized ... [that] the cycling lobby regards bicycles as virtuous and cars as evil ... " that is so HATEFUL?

If so, I have to ask you to examine your own motives here, because I think she's very much onto something. I don't live in Toronto, but I do live in a town (Vancouver) where some cyclists seem to have become equally (ridiculously) politicized. The key word here is "ridiculously". That is, if one's championing of a certain cause only serves to make general public discourse WORSE (ie: it divides people who were not previously divided), then the word that comes to mind is FAIL.

And yes, I am a cyclist.
posted by philip-random at 9:44 AM on September 10, 2009


A week old, but for posterity:

Is Michael Bryant's life over - or has it just begun?
posted by mazola at 7:35 AM on September 12, 2009


philip-random: I'll take a crack at why the Wente piece is so distasteful.

It's really got it all:

The short summary of her article might be: I don't see why everyone is so excited. Bryant is no hotshot politician, and his guilt is far from clear. I think the cyclist is being treated too kindly. Why doesn't anyone pity Bryant?

Fine. I don't agree with her, but fine. It's when you actually look at how she says these things that it really gets ugly.

There's some thinly veiled racism:
"Mr. Sheppard was partly aboriginal, and thus a double victim. He was ushered out with a drumming circle and peace pipes to help him return to the spirit world. There was plenty of pity for him, but precious little for Mr. Bryant."

Coming from someone who has previously offered such gems as "Today, however, it is simply not permissible to say that aboriginal culture was less evolved than European culture or Chinese culture – even though it's true" (from her defense of Dick Pound's "land of savages" statement), I'm not willing to give her a pass and assume that she was referring respectfully to a dead man's last rites. And what constructive, non-bigoted point could she be making by referring to Sheppard as a "double victim"? (if, in fact, she meant it sincerely as a testament to the tragedy of a disadvantaged person being run down by member of the ruling class, I'll eat my hat).

Then she sarcastically dismisses the idea that anyone should be concerned with an accused person pre-emptively hiring a PR firm to (presumably) try to influence the outcome of their trial, and dismisses the idea that anyone has been actually influenced by them.

She also refers to the people who participated in a peaceful memorial and demonstration (who followed police instructions and caused no damage) as "cycling vigilantes" and makes the supremely unhelpful comment that "if he'd stayed on his bike, he'd be alive today". Unhelpful because her statement is quite possibly wrong (if Bryant knocked him off his bike in the course of the altercation) or at least irrelevant.

Finally, she wraps it all up in her final paragraph saying essentially "this could happen to YOU!", and thus implying that Bryant acted as any reasonable person would in the situation. She ignores the hypocrisy of ending an article nominally denouncing a "stampede to judgement" with her own speculation as to the reasonable nature of Bryant's actions.

Sarcastic, racist, factually incorrect, hypocritical. I don't know about "hate" but without even playing a strong cyclist versus car position, she comes off as offensive to just about everyone.
posted by aquafiend at 1:18 PM on September 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


I don't know how to call attention to how awful Margaret Wente is without boosting her page views and thus her standing at the Globe and Mail.
posted by anthill at 8:22 PM on September 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


If I saw Margaret Wente on a bicycle, I would very probably run her over with extreme prejudice.
posted by Rumple at 8:57 PM on September 14, 2009


Is that the new Ford?
posted by ODiV at 9:12 PM on September 14, 2009


It's the new Schwinn, actually.

mounted on the front of my hummer
posted by Rumple at 9:26 PM on September 14, 2009


Oh my god Bryant's eyes in that Toronto Star picture (^^) are really disturbing.
posted by molecicco at 3:17 AM on September 15, 2009


Had it been a Conservative in that convertible, wow, there'd be no mercy!
The rules are different for high-profile people.
posted by mazola at 2:00 PM on September 15, 2009


To put Worthington's blather into context, an Ottawa driver who "plowed into" five cyclists, though not fatally, and fled the scene only to turn himself in later was charged, held overnight, and released on bail the next morning with conditions very similar to Bryant's. This looks a lot like regular procedure on the Police's part.

Worthington is very much a friend of privilege, however, and so political as to not let reality get the better of him.
posted by bonehead at 2:25 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


A social networking battle is brewing between the PR handlers of former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant and supporters of bike courier Darcy Allan Sheppard – the cyclist who was killed in a collision with Bryant's car. Social media experts discuss how both campaigns are progressing.
Bryant's social media campaign to clear his name could 'backfire'

Of course, what passes between two angry men on a street can have precious little to do with social station—not least when they’ve never met each other before. Given the facts as they now stand, Bryant may well receive exoneration in a criminal court of law. His trial in the court of public opinion has only just begun.
Car vs. Bike: How the lives of two men were destroyed by a cruel twist of fate
posted by mazola at 7:54 AM on September 16, 2009


"Why do I think it's spin?" he asks. "Because details about Sheppard's ancient run-ins with the law over stolen cheques had nothing to do with what happened the night of his death. Neither did stories about noise complaints from neighbours, or his problems with alcohol ... But they had everything to do with shaping public opinion, turning the public against Sheppard, and in support of Bryant."
Bryant and bike courier a class issue
posted by mazola at 7:33 AM on September 18, 2009


Car vs. Bike: How the lives of two men were destroyed by a cruel twist of fate

Weird and interesting how this phrase is both literal and figurative at the same time. Is there a term for that?
posted by ODiV at 10:42 AM on September 18, 2009


“What Bryant recognized in hiring [Navigator] is that there's a difference between a court of law and the court of public opinion,” said Mr. Tisch. “Is it good for Bryant that he got them on board? I'd say yes, at least so far. Is it good for society? The jury's out, to use a legal image.”
Michael Bryant's spin class
posted by mazola at 11:06 AM on September 19, 2009


Responding to questions regarding his company’s work for Bryant, Navigator spokesperson Dan Robertson offered a defense: “From day one, there has been speculation, innuendo and rumor. It is perfectly fair to insist on accuracy, especially at a time when Mr. Bryant is not able to publicly tell his side of the story.” Ironically, Navigator could have been describing the man their client was charged with killing
When Worlds Collide
posted by mazola at 5:56 AM on September 22, 2009


When Worlds Collide

Hmm. A bicycling blog. I wonder how their going to approach this?
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:05 PM on September 22, 2009


Dude's a cyclist and a lawyer. Doesn't mean he's right, but is worth a read methinks.
posted by mazola at 1:21 PM on September 22, 2009


Better (more relevant?) summary here:
...So that was the spin. Why do I think it’s spin? Because details about Sheppard’s ancient run-ins with the law over stolen checks had nothing to do with what happened the night of his death. Neither did stories about noise complaints from neighbors, or his problems with alcohol. And perhaps most important, neither did invented “questions” about road-raging cyclists and terrified drivers. But they had everything to do with shaping public opinion, turning the public against Sheppard, and in support of Bryant. The story shifted from the factual “cyclist run down by road-raging driver” to the fanciful “terrified driver attempts to flee angry, drunken criminal.”

So to set the record straight, here’s what really happened.
posted by mazola at 2:25 PM on September 22, 2009


Dude's a cyclist and a lawyer. Doesn't mean he's right, but is worth a read methinks.

Didn't mean to imply he's wrong and I did RTFA. Just struck me that the dude is a blogging cyclist and I was pretty sure what his opinion was going to be.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:57 PM on September 24, 2009


MW, The whole point of his article was that he describes the facts, as shown in the security video.

His opinion about news media that had all the footage but chose to show it piecemeal, in disjointed cuts, overdubbed with nonfactual speculations... well, you can be pretty sure what his opinion is.
posted by anthill at 5:59 AM on September 25, 2009


Hmm. A bicycling blog. I wonder how their going to approach this?

... with a focus on verifiable facts taken from objective video evidence?
posted by mazola at 9:06 AM on September 25, 2009


objective video evidence

LOL
posted by Rumple at 9:53 AM on September 25, 2009


A mounted surveillance camera will provide an objective record of what occurs in front of it.

Regardless of what we think may have happened that night, the video has captured the placement, positioning, and timing of Sheppard and Bryant and provides a useful benchmark to evaluate the more subjective evidence and speculation that surrounds this case.

Could you be more specific as to why you feel video evidence is not objective? What is its bias?
posted by mazola at 10:25 AM on September 25, 2009


From the blog: "Dismissing the initial reports of a verbal argument between Bryant and Sheppard, the paper instead raised the specter of anonymous “reports that Sheppard tried to commandeer the vehicle, reaching in to grab the wheel and attacking the driver,” opining that “if this was, for all intents and purposes, a kind of car-jacking, then it’s hard to blame the driver for flooring it.” After implying that Bryant had been “terrified” by Sheppard, the paper again posited Bryant as the victim, noting that “In any event, Bryant will have his day in court and it is almost certain that self-defense will feature prominently.” The editorial concluded that “Bryant seems pretty certain that he is innocent of the accusations and, if true, he should be allowed to have his life back”—a conclusion that somehow missed the obvious irony that Sheppard would never have his life back."

Also: "Sheppard gave chase, grabbing onto Bryant’s car as it sped by. Witnesses reported hearing shouting, and noted that Bryant was “very, very angry.” They also reported that as Bryant sped down the street with Sheppard clinging to his car, he was driving on the wrong side of the street, at about 60 miles per hour, driving up onto the sidewalk, driving against the trees and posts and newspaper boxes lining the street in what they reported appeared to be an attempt to brush Sheppard off his car. Down the street 100 yards, Sheppard was slammed into a mail collection box, and crumpled into a heap in the street as Bryant’s rear wheels ran over him."

Now, it appears to me that the blogger is accepting assertions favorable to his beliefs as "facts" on the one hand, and dismissing assertions unfavorable as "spin" and asserting in turn that they are irrelevant to the facts in the case. However, it seems to me that Shepard's mental and physical state at the time are relevant, much as he would like them not to be. Whether any of the assertions by "anonymous witnesses" (on Bryant's behalf) or just "witnesses" (on Shepard's), there is a lot of spinning going on on both sides. This is why we have courts and trials. The attempt by those of us who weren't there to somehow parse who's lying and who's telling the truth and who's just plain mistaken from a distance is futile.

My own personal belief is that Bryant is a publicly known asshole, Shepard acted like one, and the "anonymous" witnesses support both assertions. Two assholes meet, violence ensues. Shepard aggressively pulls in front of Bryant's car, Bryant says something rude and threatening, Shepard returns the favor, Bryant loses his temper, bumps the bike, then tries to proceed, Shepard does something (grabs on to car to prevent it from leaving or grabs onto Bryant or the wheel to do what?), Bryant freaks out either from fear or anger and kills the guy accidentally.

It is more likely in my mind that the driver is criminally liable and has a tough row to hoe if he wants to make the case that Shepard was so intimidating that his actions were a reasonable defense of his life. Nonetheless, I await the outcome of the legal process, a flawed one at best, but still the best we can offer in a society governed by laws.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:32 AM on September 25, 2009


Without the little post-it notes you can't see a damn thing in any of the video I've seen. It's not biased video, it's biased commentary on a completely inadequate video. Consider that without the labelling and a degree of trust you could not even tell who was driving and who was on the bicycle. Interpreting this video is on the same level as scapulomancy.

Otherwise, Mental Wimp more or less says what I would say if I were to spell it out.
posted by Rumple at 11:34 AM on September 25, 2009


It is more likely in my mind that the driver is criminally liable and has a tough row to hoe if he wants to make the case that Shepard was so intimidating that his actions were a reasonable defense of his life.

Agreed.

Nonetheless, I await the outcome of the legal process, a flawed one at best, but still the best we can offer in a society governed by laws.

Agreed x 10.
posted by mazola at 11:38 AM on September 25, 2009


Bryant ... bumps the bike

I'm sorry, but I can't let this go. You may not be able to make out people's faces, but unless you are going to claim that the security video shown is of a different black SAAB convertible with two passengers in it ramming a cyclist onto the hood, pushing him and his bike about 8 feet, braking and dumping him in an intersection, then immediately reversing and accelerating hard to flee the scene...

I'm sorry. There was no 'bump'.
posted by anthill at 1:17 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but I can't let this go.

There's no sense in repeating mistakes (I'm going to hell)
posted by mazola at 1:36 PM on September 25, 2009


It's true that you also can't hear Shephard yell "I am going to kill you and your family you motherfucking fuck" on the video. Draw your own conclusions.
posted by Rumple at 1:57 PM on September 25, 2009


It's true that you also can't hear Shephard yell "I am going to kill you and your family you motherfucking fuck" on the video. Draw your own conclusions.

Well, before I draw any conclusions some questions:
  1. Who claimed Sheppard said that? Bryant? His wife? An eyewitness? Rumple?
  2. Is there something to corroborate it?
  3. When was this claim made? Minutes after the incident? Hours? Days? 2:57pm on September 25, 2009?
  4. Where does it fit into the known sequence of events? Feel free to make video annotations.
posted by mazola at 4:48 PM on September 25, 2009


On Friday, the Toronto Bike Couriers Association called a press conference at a College Street bar, and supposedly held a fundraiser yesterday for their "very special" friend, Darcy Allan Sheppard -- hitting at the media for articles "damning the life, personality and background" of their former co-worker.

It was undoubtedly a tough sell beyond their own group.

Darcy Sheppard may have been a father of four, but he paid little heed, and certainly little support, to any of them.

He was no one's poster boy except, perhaps, to deadbeat dads.
A Plea for Justice: Girlfriend of dead cyclist hopes the truth prevails when former Ontario AG faces charges.
posted by mazola at 8:35 AM on September 28, 2009


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