Last Friday an 84-year old man on bike was killed on Greenwood Avenue. Most media reported only a terse report, likely simply gleaned from a police report, suggesting the cyclist "collided" with the car. The difference between this collision and the collision last month between a pedestrian and a cyclist is striking. The media was outraged, the politicians were calling for bike licensing. In that case the cyclist was fined but police found there was no criminal intent (just as in similar cases involving drivers killing pedestrians).
This time nothing.
Well, almost nothing. Today Inside Toronto reported that a few things about Jack Roper. We know he was a World Ward Two veteran; he worked as a mailman; he complained about traffic problems in East York; that Jack and friends would meet every morning at Karma Kafe on Coxwell; that he refused to wear a helmet (though a friend admitted "I don't know if it would've helped him..."); and that he was in excellent shape by cycling every day and working out at the gym.
We also know that police had recently given out 303 tickets to cyclists in the hopes reducing "the number of collisions in the area". The article doesn't mention how many drivers were fined, nor how giving out tickets for missing bells or lights would have helped prevent this particular death.
We don't know if the driver was fined. We don't even know if the driver or the cyclist was going through a red light.
Why isn't the media outraged at the driver? Is this just a case of "shit happens"?
Why is it when once every two years a cyclist is involved in an incident with a pedestrian that so many people have solutions looking for a problem (as in the case of licensing), but no one considers that there may be solutions to prevent 84-year olds from being hit or run over by cars? There is certainly a bias that normalizes death by car as just part of a modern society, but perhaps we also can't apply simplistic solutions like licensing to drivers because in theory the driver already has a licensing. I'm waiting for us to start waking up to the fact that we need to slow down cars, stop considering speeding cars as danger-free, and stop treating death by car as normal. And the best way we know of increasing safety on our streets is to make it harder for vehicles to speed (call it "complete streets" or whatever).
On Friday, August 12 there will be a memorial ride for the cyclist. People will be meeting at Bloor and Spadina at 8am.