Motorist impunity and the fear of cycling

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As the Toronto Star reports, Initial reports of the crash that killed Tom Samson indicated that he had run a red light. The police and prosecutors have now stated they do not believe Samson ran a red light; instead, they believe he had stopped, properly, to make a left turn when a van hit him from behind. The Star reports, quote, "It’s unclear what prompted the change."

The police have a right to make mistakes. They have a right, and indeed an obligation, to amend their conclusions as new evidence emerges. I expect nothing less. Likewise, prosecutors have an obligation to bring only charges they can prove. In some cases, this will mean that offenders avoid charges, but our system works that way.

That does not mean that police have no obligation to conduct a transparent, accountable investigation. Cyclists who follow the repercussions of bicycle crashes know all too well that too many people leap to blame the cyclist whenever a crash happens. We know that too many drivers find it comfortable to blame the cyclist for any accident for which the police do not charge the driver. And we know, too, that if drivers have a sense of impunity, they all too often have good reason.

As a community, we cyclists often disagree about the best infrastructure for cycling. We discuss the virtues of painted versus physically separated lanes, of the advantages and disadvantages of infrastructure designed specifically for bicycles. I believe we can agree on one thing: cycling safety depends on a justice system that holds the operators of motor vehicles accountable for their actions. I believe the first essential step in that process is transparency: open investigations and conclusions.

The police may have valid reasons to hold back details of the crash that took Tom Samson's life for now, but they have a responsibility to make their investigation public as soon as possible. The safety of cyclists, and our confidence in the system that keeps us safe, demands at least that much.

Comments

I ride with a GoPro running just so that my seemingly eventual death won't be in vain. It would immediately prove whether I stopped at a red at least.

I linked my comment to my Flickr stream ... I've only posted a few examples of the ridiculous behaviour I've witnessed (much of which is from cyclists), but I really need to post more video on YouTube.

'Ridiculous behaviour' may happen in the same proportion by cyclists, but kills in a tiny fraction of the proportion of motor vehicle collisions...

Whenever there's a collision between a car and a bicycle, the car driver uses the universal explanation, "... I didn't see him.", and that seems to satisfy the police in nearly every case.

" cycling is accepted as a legitimate form of transportation. "
I got this quote from a vid that is posted on this web page.

Cycling accepted as a legitimate form of transportation by the public.

Cycling accepted as a legitimate form of transportation by the car driver.

... until both the above take place it is unsafe to ride your bike in Toronto mostly due to very poor attitude of car drivers.

A lawyer that rides his bike to work most everyday has posted on his webpage something to this effect; ' aggressive drivers squeeze cyclists to the curb and then cut in front of them. ' Why does this have to take place. How do we put a stop to such and to such immature poor and very bad attitude of the car driver.

Here is what has to take place in Toronto;

We must adopt the Copenhagen model.

The car driver is automatically assumed guilty if a car is in an accident with a cyclist. The car driver must prove that he was in the right. Full onus of proof falls on the driver of the car as I understand it.

Toronto has to go further.
It seems as if Toronto has a huge number of immature with some kind of inferiority complex or mental disorder car drivers that causes them to have an immediate hatred for the cyclist and to try and do damage to the cyclist and cause deliberate injury even if it can avoided.

If a cyclist makes an error the above type of drivers that are in the huge majority will deliberately try to escalate the matter so as to cause deliberate injury to the cyclist although they can avoid doing so.

When there is good and reasonable drivers on the road, a small majority, cyclists have nothing to worry about. They will give you your space required and not try to deliberately get in your way to cause injury.

The law must be harsh on the driver that gets into an accident with a cyclist. The penalty and consequence of doing so must be severe to the driver of the car.

In most cases the cyclist cannot prove that the driver lined him up and picked him off on purpose just for a cheap thrill to cause injury although it is obvious that this was the case therefore harsh laws must be put in place to protect the cyclist against the car driver.

Once the immature driver knows that he is accountable and there are harsh penalties then there is no problem. Then there is no need to argue about closed off bike lanes or as they are.

30 pounds of bike is no match against a ton of steel.

Poor car driver attitude is the problem.
There is only one way to deal with it.
Harsh penalties to the driver of the car.
Automatically assumed guilty until they can prove otherwise.
... We must go to extremes on this matter for the well being and safety of the cyclist of all cyclists.

I've been cycling to work for the last 20 years and for the most part I've been lucky - I've had very few problems. However, in the past year I've had a few run-ins with drivers who think they own the road and who accused me of things I didn't do. Last September I was riding in the bike lane on Shuter Street when an arrogant SOB in a BMW X5 accused me of smacking his car at Sherbourne because I apparently didn't like the way he was turning. I didn't know the jerk from Adam and I told him he had the wrong person, but he insisted that I hit his car and started screaming at me to pull over. Someone else pulled over and said he was a "peacemaker", but this moron still thought I hit his car. I got into a major shouting match with the POS, but he finally cancelled his call to the police, still yelling that I had hit his car and left (OOOO! the HORROR!) a few fingerprints on his stupid car. I wish the police had shown up. I would have liked to have seen him fined and docked a few points (or worse). Another time (in March) I was riding to work along Queen Street East when some idiot cab driver started bitching to me about bikes taking up his precious road space and telling me to take the Dundas or Lakeshore paths. I don't have to justify my choice of roads to some random idiot (it's the shortest way, FYI, and I like to get to work on time). I told him that I'm a taxpayer and it's my road too. He started griping about paying 50 cents a litre for road tax, and I told him to go cry to his mommy. I've had a driver's licence for over 30 years and I'm as careful on my bike as I am driving a car. I don't have to put up with crap from idiots who think they own the road.

dman63

pennyfarthing ok frye