Automotive Entitlement Revisited

Back in September of 2009, a cyclist was killed by a motorist in Toronto; I blogged about the beginning of the mess in Automotive Entitlement (Again).

Now the Guardian tells us Top Canadian lawyer told he will not face trial over Toronto cyclist’s death, while the CBC’s headline is Charges against Bryant in fatal crash withdrawn.

Even better, and even more flagrant, road-raging Bryant is considering a return to politics. Anyone running against Mr. Bryant would be well advised not to show up at political events on a bike.

So the moral of the story, folks: killing someone with your car doesn’t even need to be more than an eight-month interuption to your political career. It was only a bicyclist, after all. People who matter drive cars.

By Brian Burger

Started this site way, way back in November 1998, when the web was young. It's still here, and so am I.

2 replies on “Automotive Entitlement Revisited”

I think this comment is very unfair and highly misleading.

While in general I agree that cyclists need more respect and a greater share of the road, the trial proceedings in this case clearly showed that the victim was a drug- and alcohol-abusing psychopath with a long history of un- or semi-provoked attacks on otherwise innocent car drivers in downtown Toronto, including at least one such attack in the week before the Bryant incident.

If YOU were in the same position as Bryant, on that unfortunate day — that is, driving in a convertible with a family member — and a violent nut case like the victim tries to jump in your car while trying to grab your steering wheel — what would YOU (or any halfway responsible person), do? (By the way — how would it be different if both you and the victim were driving bicycles? The issue here is “unprovoked assault”, not “who drives what”.)

The consequences of the incident were no doubt tragic, but it is extremely unfair and hypocritical to blame Bryant for panicking and trying to drive away from a violent confrontation like this situation. If people were to adopt your position it would basically mean that cyclists could attack motorists anywhere in downtown Toronto for reasons good, bad or indifferent, and bear no responsibility for so doing.

Obviously, Bryant got better legal representation than any ordinary person would likely have, but occasionally, the legal system produces a fair verdict under the circumstances, and here the evidence about the case and about the victim’s belligerent patterns of behavior was almost unavoidable. With that said, it is a very sad story, and I still feel very bad about the man’s demise. Michael Bryant obviously feels terrible about it, as he should.

By the way, I both drive a car and ride a bike. Whenever I’m on the one, I’m always conscious of the rights and limitations of the other. Neither one entitles me to “own the road”. When one side or another starts believing that it does, you get disasters like the Bryant incident.

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