Special Report: Cycling

Car Culture Victim Blaming at its Worst

This is the end result of a culture that blames pedestrians and cyclists killed and injured by motorists, instead of the drivers who are actually responsible.

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published May 01, 2014

You have probably heard of this by now:

An independent police force will be asked to review a crash that killed a teenager, following a public outcry over the lawsuit filed against the dead boy by the woman who was driving the car that struck and killed him.

17-year-old Brandon Majewski was cycling home from a coffee shop with friends Richard McLean and Jake Roberts, both 16, in the early hours of October 28, 2012 when a black Kia Sorrento operated by Sharlene Simon struck the boys from behind, killing Majewski and seriously injuring McLean.

An investigation deemed poor visibility that day as the main contributing factor. The Crown advised against laying charges against Sharlene Simon, the driver.

Majewski's family subsequently sued Simon, alleging she was driving while intoxicated and on the phone at the time.

Months later, Simon filed a separate suit against Majewski (not his family), McLean and Roberts. In her statement of claim, Simon alleges the boys were biking without the appropriate safety gear and without keeping an eye on the roads.

Simon's statement of claim says she "sustained serious and permanent injuries to important physical, mental and psychological functions."

Neither party's claims have been proven in court.

This is the end result of a culture that blames pedestrians and cyclists killed and injured by motorists, instead of the drivers who are actually responsible.

The news media are complicit in this, always trying to find excuses for drivers and asking whether cyclists were wearing helmets or whether pedestrians were wearing reflective clothes.

We repeatedly see claims that the real victims are the motorists who feel upset about maiming and killing their victims.

The courts are also complicit, because they refuse to take the deaths and injuries of pedestrians and cyclists seriously. Instead, they almost always find reasons to excuse the driver. "I didn't see her" is apparently all it takes.

In the rare cases when the driver is found to be at fault, the usual penalty is only a $500 fine, even for killing a pedestrian who is crossing in a crosswalk.

All of this means, as in this case, that the police don't charge the driver because of the low probability of conviction, which leads the driver and society to assume it must have been the victim's fault.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.

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By brendansimons (registered) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 14:12:24

Judges and Juries see themselves as "Drivers facing an every day risk of hitting pedestrians" rather than "pedestrians / cyclists facing an every day risk of getting hit by drivers". Until that basic worldview shifts, we will continue to see law protecting the fears of the majority, more than the risks of the vulnerable.

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By Jeremy S (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 16:05:24

Biased, polarizing articles like this one discredit RTH in the eyes of readers who would prefer something balanced and constructive.

Seriously? "the drivers... are actually responsible" for EVERY SINGLE fatality? That's as absurd as asserting the pedestrian/cyclist is always responsible.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 01:47:36 in reply to Comment 100761

I didn't read it that way, as absolutist hyperbole.

But every case that I have read about, is lenient on the driver. Whether a drunk flies off the road and kills a nice girl at the bottom of the Wentworth stairs (my friend who lives at that corner witnessed another vehicle fly off that corner since, and no safety work has been done), or whether someone mismanages their condition and kills three people on York Blvd (an accident I directly witnessed the aftermath of and started sobbing when I read the sentencing report a few days ago because that was traumatizing to this passerby to even witness), and I could go on and on; the leniency of the penalties are concerning.

What do you expect but people to be pissed off.

Where victims were at fault, it is mentioned. Like a cyclist killed in the blind spot of a wide turning vehicle. Or the boy that had a freak accident cycling on the sidewalk on U James. I think these things are acknowledged as such. There is no need to attribute hyperbole to the author.

Because even the cases of deliberate negligence are a joke, and damn right it's cause for concern.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-05-02 01:48:39

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 02, 2014 at 08:09:10 in reply to Comment 100788

"In every situation where a pedestrian or cyclist is killed or injured by an automobile, it is the automobile that caused the death and someone was in control of that automobile. That is a fact. If the driver had instead chosen to walk, there would have been no serious accident."

The author used the word "every." If he had have said "most" or "in the accidents where the driver is at fault" maybe it could be read differently. But overall, it is very difficult to see that he took anything other than an absolutist position.

As to hyperbole, I didn't read it as hyperbole or rhetoric. I read that cars are "the" problem and I thought he truly believed that that until after discussion the author conceded that there may me situations where a cyclists might be at fault for injuring himself but would not concede that he was morally at fault.

It is very difficult to read the article and the comments of the author without believing he has an absolutist view.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 09:32:40 in reply to Comment 100795

Perhaps I am using the word "responsible" in an overly specific way (i.e. not legalistic or intentional or morally at fault).

Cars and their drivers are responsible in the sense that cars are the source of the danger and the driver made a conscious decision to engage in this behaviour that poses a risk to others, as other commenters have noted. This is in the same way as a wind turbine operator is "responsible" for killing birds or a subway driver is "responsible" for killing a passenger who falls onto the track.

The response to passengers falling onto the tracks has not been to simply tell them to be more careful (or to sue the dead passenger for causing anguish to the driver), but to engineer safety into the system (e.g. in Paris they are gradually fitting sliding doors trackside to make it impossible to fall in front of the train). However, it must also be remembered that in a great many cases drivers are clearly inattentive or aggressive and are treated very leniently by the courts (why else would a $500 fine be sufficient punishment for a driver killing a pedestrian in a crosswalk, or "I didn't see her" convince a judge to acquit the driver who killed an 87-old woman crossing the road). Here are some statistics from Chicago: http://www.mcnabolalaw.com/Articles/The-...

In order to make our roads safer, we have to start with the realization that it is cars themselves that are the dangerous component, that using cars is a choice that incurs significant risks (to other drivers, to pedestrians, cyclists, and especially to those road users, including pedestrians, who are inattentive or irresponsible).

As I have pointed out through numerous examples, both cultural and legal, our society instead views pedestrian deaths and injuries at best as an unavoidable fact of nature that it would be foolish to try to address, and at worse as the fault of pedestrians for being negligent. It is a well-documented fact that in North America, sober drivers are almost never charged with serious offences when they kill or injure pedestrians, even when they admit to being at fault.

Perhaps "responsible" is too unclear, would "the source of risk" be better?

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 08:31:46 in reply to Comment 100795

I understand, thank you (sincerely) for that feedback. I wasn't trying to be difficult. I didn't read it that way, but my own pre-conditioning is affecting how I read it, just like everyone else sees things through the lens of their own experience. I actually was trying to understand the perspectives so that writers and commenters gain an opportunity to improve the clarity of their communication.

It doesn't change my agreement with the main point - too many cases of serious driving negligence where people are killed are treated very leniently, I worry for public safety, am sick and tired myself of having anxiety every time I need to bike somewhere, and nobody who points that out that this is bad, is wrong for doing so.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 01, 2014 at 19:02:01 in reply to Comment 100761

If I go to a school and juggle hand-grenades until a kid accidentally bumps into my legs and I drop one and kill a dozen kids, would it by my fault or the child's fault?

Now, if I drive past a school and a group of kids bump into my car and die, is it my fault?

I'm the one who brought a deadly instrument into a safe person's life. What happens when they interact is my responsibility.

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By durander (registered) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 17:07:49 in reply to Comment 100761

I'm with Jeremy S on this one. This 'better than thou' attitude lately on RTH w.r.t. cyclists and pedestrians is getting a little tiring. It is about a balance, and there's no 'fix all' solution. But to say drivers are always at fault, it flawed. And comparing to guns as did one reader, is well, to put it bluntly, absurd. No one is going out driving intending to injure/kill anyone...regardless of what some of you think. P.S. I live downtown and walk/cycle a fair bit too, so don't respond saying I'm just a crazy car driver. I even negotiate the supposed 'freeways' of downtown, and the collision causing intersection at Queen and Herkimer!

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By Chris Angel (registered) | Posted May 03, 2014 at 15:39:50 in reply to Comment 100766

Whenever a motorist gets behind the wheel that person SHOULD take complete responsibility for arriving at their destination without injuring other drivers, pedestrians, cyclist or those using disability transportation. The only exceptions are in the rare instance when another individual recklessly endangers themselves in a manner unlikely to be predictable to the motorist. This last "get out of jail free card" has been abused to ridiculous levels by courts and governments more concerned with assuring insurers and motorists that it is business as usual. By all means take no more care than you are already you "salt of the earth get out of my way types". I am now exclusively a motorist as cycling is no longer possible for me. I have logged a lot of mileage over the last 40 years and have never injured another individual. I would like to think this is because I make an extra effort to drive safely even when others are not. I do not believe I am exceptional in this regard and there are many other drivers who take similar care. Any experienced motorist knows that this is not always the case. Any day I drive; which is most I see more than a few drivers who appear to have no concern for anyone - even themselves. Ricky road racers darting in and out of lanes at 180+ km/hr. In the city idiots running red lights to arrive 6 seconds sooner even if someone has to die. Motorists who are oblivious to road conditions and think it is their "right" to drive at or in excess of the posted speed limit regardless of conditions. I could go on but why bother, if you drive you know it is true. It is bad drivers for the most part who injure or kill other people. The courts are reluctant to revoke drivers licences or impose any sentence that might lead to civil litigation against the driver. This is clearly unjust and needs to be changed. If the courts and governments won't do their job then maybe they need to be shamed into making such changes.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 17:26:04 in reply to Comment 100766

Nowhere did I say drivers are always at fault, and certainly not that they intend to kill or maim.

If a hunter unintentionally kills a hiker because he mistakes the hiker for a deer, would you say the hunter was not responsible because the hiker should have been wearing bright orange or making noise or not walking in the bush in hunting season?

I'll run the risk of making you feel tired in the hope that you might possibly reflect on why thousands are killed and hundreds of thousands are injured on our roads in Canada every year and make you wonder why our police consider that "careless driving" is one of the most difficult charges to get a conviction of under the HTA.

And if you really are a traffic engineer (which I highly doubt given your attitude to traffic safety) it should be your professional responsibility to be thinking about how to make our roads safer ... and that starts with the most dangerous factor on our roads (hint: it's not pedestrians).

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted May 03, 2014 at 14:03:04 in reply to Comment 100770

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 16:56:55 in reply to Comment 100761

Not every situation is balanced, and it should be obvious that the vast difference in potential to cause harm to others makes motorist/pedestrian collisions one of these situations.

Motorists pose a huge danger to pedestrians; walking would not be a dangerous activity if there were no cars. The vulnerability of pedestrians and the power to harm of cars makes the situation highly asymmetrical.

Do you really think every issue requires a "balanced" treatment? Like: "opinions differ on the shape of the Earth" or "...but we would be remiss to not to consider the possible benefits of malnutrition and poverty".

In every situation where a pedestrian or cyclist is killed or injured by an automobile, it is the automobile that caused the death and someone was in control of that automobile. That is a fact. If the driver had instead chosen to walk, there would have been no serious accident.

The driver is responsible (although not necessarily at fault or responsible in a legal sense) because they chose to engage in an activity that is dangerous to themselves and others and they have control over their vehicle. Maybe the collision was unavoidable, but their car hit and injured someone. This is the reason any moral person feels huge remorse if they kill or injure someone with their car, no matter what the details of the collision were. They know intuitively that they caused the death or injury.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-05-01 17:04:09

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted May 03, 2014 at 14:17:49 in reply to Comment 100764

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By Chris Angel (registered) | Posted May 03, 2014 at 15:50:21 in reply to Comment 100859

Yes certainly the low level of convictions means that most pedestrians were the authors of their own misfortune. In the same way when police or the medical profession investigate themselves the low number of convictions in either profession is a clear indication the patient or complainant is wrong.

If you drive you MUST be aware of the abundance of terrible drivers.

Yet you only mention non motorists and their abdication of responsibility. You are not biased.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted May 04, 2014 at 01:12:49 in reply to Comment 100865

There are many terrible drivers on the road. If you wish to post an article and ask for opinions I have a few. However that is not the theme of this article and posts. I don't see the relevance of doctors or cops checking themselves to the culpability of motorists in vehicle vs pedestrian collision. The comments and articles on this site would have you believe that there is wholesale slaughter on the roads where motorists are deliberately and wantonly running into cyclists and pedestrians. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am often amazed that there are not more incidences of pedestrians being hit. Over the years I have seen a drastic change in the behaviour of pedestrians. There is a lot less respect and even fear of vehicular traffic. More and more I hear it is my right to cross the road. The car had better not hit me. I can ride my bike with out lights at midnight the cars can see me, they had better not hit me or I'll sue. I have heard it all. I have had some very long arguments with young people and even my own children about this. I have more fear of their safety now then when they were little kids.

We have a complicated set of laws dealing with the responsibility of people. It has taken years for it to get to where it is and it is constantly changing. If you or others are not happy then please change them. That is how civilization works. Many changes have taken place and many more are on their way.

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By Really (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 17:22:12 in reply to Comment 100764

"In every situation where a pedestrian or cyclist is killed or injured by an automobile, it is the automobile that caused the death and someone was in control of that automobile. That is a fact. If the driver had instead chosen to walk, there would have been no serious accident."

So I live 30 miles from a hospital on a farm and the nearest ambulance service is 30 minutes away. My 3 year old has a congenital defect and suffers what appears to me to be a heart attack. It's two in the mmorning and raining (no Moon.) I am atravelling the speed limit with my lghts on to the hospital and drunk wearing black riding a bike with no lghts or reflectors runs a stop light and hits the side of my car. This is my fault according to "Kevlahan."

I am thankful for judges and juries.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 17:28:31 in reply to Comment 100769

I did not say it was your fault. But you are still responsible for the cyclist's death. Who else is responsible? The cyclist was certainly behaving irresponsibly and engaging in risky behaviour ... but he didn't kill himself!

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted May 04, 2014 at 01:14:27 in reply to Comment 100772

yes he did why is that so hard to grasp? we are responsible for our own actions.

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By really (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 17:29:28 in reply to Comment 100772

Yes he did. He drove into the side of a car. Might as well have driven off a cliff.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 17:46:23 in reply to Comment 100773

Okay: we can exclude cases where we the victim essentially killed themselves AND the motorist could not possibly have avoided the collision. But surely you realize those are extremely rare situations, very different from the case referred to in the article where a possibly drunk woman hit three cyclists from behind?

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 01, 2014 at 18:08:26 in reply to Comment 100775

Actually not so rare. Ergo the case in the paper. There is no suggestion that the woman was drunk - and in fact I read she voluntarily submitted to a breathalyzer which fairly conclusively established that she had not been drinking.

For a philosophy to be valid, it must be non-contradictory; that is, it must be consistent with its own proposal.

The common law does not deal in absolutes particularly as it relates to relative responsibilities. People can be anywhere from 0-100% responsible for their actions depending upon the circumstances.

The fundamental principal of tort law is to put an injured person back to where they were based on relative responsibilities.

So, if a person is 50% responsible for another’s injuries, they must pay 50% of the damages.

If the driver of the car that struck the cyclist is 50% to blame, she will pay for 50% of the cyclists damages. If the cyclist is found to be 50% to blame for the driver’s injuries, the cyclist will have to pay 50% of the drivers damages. This is well known in tort law in all common law jurisdictions and it is hardly surprising that an injured driver can sue a cyclist or a pedestrian. Ultimately it stands for the proposition that we are all held accountable for the actions for which we are responsible.

Using "Really's" hypothetical fact situation above, if the child died conclusively because of a delay caused by the cyclist's failure to act properly, the cyclist, whether dead or alive, would be held to be responsible for the child’s death – not the driver of the car.

It is hardly shocking to the law that the lady who struck the cyclists and allegedly suffers severe psychological trauma as a consequence, could win a significant damage award if in the end it is found that the cyclists are found to be responsible for the accident.

Let the Court, which is usually a judge and a jury, decide.

Comment edited by notlloyd on 2014-05-01 18:14:02

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 18:17:11 in reply to Comment 100777

I clarified that I am not talking about legal fault or common law legal responsibility.

I'm trying to advance the discussion of why people die on the roads, who is responsible (in a non-legalistic sense) and how they could be made safer for all road users.

And a proper consideration of the most vulnerable and the most dangerous road users is a good starting point. And, as Brandon points out (and as described and justified in detail in the book Carjacked), society as a whole and the North American courts in particular consider pedestrian deaths to be unavoidable accidents, and tend to blame the victim.

Perhaps the woman who struck three cyclists from behind after drinking in conditions of poor visibility, does have a good case to sue the dead victim. (I thought that normally if a motorist rear-ends another vehicle they are always at fault http://www.icbcclaiminfo.com/node/27.) But the community outcry (11,000 signed the petition) shows that it is an outrage to common morality.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-05-01 18:41:53

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By theashleighp (registered) - website | Posted May 01, 2014 at 19:53:07 in reply to Comment 100778

"(I thought that normally if a motorist rear-ends another vehicle they are always at fault http://www.icbcclaiminfo.com/node/27.)"

Yes! Why does this change as soon as the person being 'rear-ended' isn't also inside a motorized metal machine?

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 01, 2014 at 21:41:42 in reply to Comment 100780

Key word is "normally."

If you are driving down the road at night otherwise normally, and the driver in front of you is stopped in the middle of the road with his lights off and you hit him, he may bear a large portion of the liability.

There are ample cases where rear end collisions occur and the driver in front is at fault - just not normally. Every case turns on it sown facts.

So, it does not change just because the person in front of you is in a non-motorized metal machine.

That's why I posted the comment about absolutism in philosophy.

Further, thousands of people cheered as innocent people were guillotined during the French Revolution. Just because they were large in number did not make them right. As Atticus Finch said in To Kill a Mockingbird, "the courts are the great levelers." We are all lucky for that.

Further to that, the cyclist in Really's example is both morally and legally culpable.

And who says the woman won't ultimately be partially responsible for the deaths. If she is her damages will be reduced and she will have to pay part of the family's loss.

I think there is far too much here to be discussed on a blog

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 16:46:12 in reply to Comment 100761

There's balanced and then there's balanced.

Your reaction to this article as polarizing is interesting as the polar opposite view is currently in effect, that drivers are rarely, if ever, held responsible for hitting cyclists or pedestrians. It's almost as if we accept that you don't REALLY have to control this thing that you're driving...

If the visibility was as poor as the original article implies then she shouldn't have been driving at the speed she was driving at.

Regardless, to sue the boy's estate is beyond crass. It is, however, the natural result of a society that considers drivers blameless. Much like that girl in Australia who is upset that the cyclist whose back she broke had the nerve to damage her car with his bike.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted May 03, 2014 at 14:23:58 in reply to Comment 100763

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted May 05, 2014 at 11:35:12 in reply to Comment 100860

Well, that escalated quickly.

When you consider that the penalty for killing someone if you're in a car is around $500, that's hardly commensurate with death by criminal negligence or manslaughter, which can carry life sentences.

So, technically, there is blame, but in a real sense?

Or does your mighty mind not see the difference?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 16:27:35 in reply to Comment 100761

Yes. Drivers are responsible in the same way that gun owners are responsible for gun accidents, even if it's their child that pulls the trigger.

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By Jeremy S (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 17:06:23

I suppose if someone's walking down the train tracks like they have for years and years, listenting to their iPod, and they don't hear the train in time, it's the train operator's fault the person gets killed?

I'm not denying cars/traffic are lethal and many motorists drive dangerously; that's a reality that has to change. But a view as radical as "every motorist is responsible for every pedestrian/cyclist fatality" is kind of inflammatory to a lot of people. When I was a kid I came very close to driving my bike in front of a bus moving at full speed. I wasn't paying attention and I almost died. If I got killed by that bus, it would have been my fault, not the driver's. I have a hard time seeing it any other way.

As soon as we liken people with cars to murderers or gun nuts, we're going to alienate them because it's a personal attack. They vote, and they won't want anything to do with "safe streets".

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By huh? (anonymous) | Posted May 05, 2014 at 03:26:52 in reply to Comment 100765

it is illegal to walk along train track.
it is legal to ride a bike along a street.

it is exactly these types of hyperbolic analogies that conflate the real point.

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By Jeremy S (anonymous) | Posted May 05, 2014 at 12:28:35 in reply to Comment 100930

Please let me explain my analogy. There are laws that govern our behaviour and if/when someone breaks a law and gets killed, then, despite the circumstances created by another person (train or car operator), the victim is at least partially responsible for their own tragic death. Laws apply to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike. These laws alone will not prevent fatalities and better urban planning will reduce fatal encouters, but if everyone simply obeyed the laws (fantasy world, I know) there would be minimal fatal encounters between automobiles and cyclists.

Please note I am NOT saying the pedestrian/cyclist is usually at fault and the the driver is rarely at fault. What I am saying is, I object to the notion that pedestrains/cyclists can be absolved of their actions simply because they have more to loose. A statement like "Group A is never to blame and Group B is always to blame." is a big red flag that someone is more interested in their personal agenda than reason. Not an easy person to collaborate with to solve a touchy issue.

Has everyone seen the movie "The Sweet Hereafter?". It deals with a person's compulsion to lay blame in the wake of tragic circumstances. Powerful movie. Sort of applies to this whole conversation. Don't not watch it just because you don't agree with me :)

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 17:19:32

The lovely Ms Clairmont has an article in today's Spec about hypoglycemia and how Diane Maki (mother to Allan Maki) is devastated about his having killed two car occupants and a pedestrian while impaired by low blood sugar.

Not devastated enough to turn in their licenses and fight for laws limiting diabetic drivers from operating a vehicle without a warning low sugar monitor (these exist today, they are expensive). Or fighting for better public transit so we don't have to have our 'independence' dependent on automobiles.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted May 03, 2014 at 14:32:07 in reply to Comment 100767

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By IanReynolds (registered) | Posted May 05, 2014 at 19:33:03 in reply to Comment 100861

If it needs to be recalibrated twice a day, then recalibrate it twice a day. Driving isn't a right, it's a privilege, and if the driver needs to be occasionally inconvenienced for a few minutes a day to PREVENT THEM FROM KILLING THREE INNOCENT PEOPLE, then inconvenience them.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 17:22:09

My nurse friends joke about the best way to kill someone. Get really drunk and run them over, because you'll do far less time than any other method.

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By murder is always hilarious! (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 12:50:56 in reply to Comment 100768

Wow.

Your friends, and you by extension, are cruel people.

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By Really (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 17:26:56

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By Quit finding fault. (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 18:02:34

Our society depends on the rapid movement of people, goods, and services to maintain our standard of living. So we are not going to get rid of cars or trains now or ever.

Thinking we can replace fast and efficient cars with slow and enjoyable bicycles in anything more than small tactical ways in some inner city areas is just foolish. Although I'm a big fan of those bike projects where possible and helpful.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted May 03, 2014 at 14:33:22 in reply to Comment 100776

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 02:04:29 in reply to Comment 100776

So we are not going to get rid of cars or trains now or ever.

Who said that that was the objective? What (specifically) did you read that formed that perspective? Identifying a problem is the same as advocating abolishing cars and trains?

??

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By Joshua (registered) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 23:29:40 in reply to Comment 100776

But that's precisely it: our standard of living. Our. Standard. Living. Our standard of living comes at great costs to others and what's being asked in this article is, simply, to consider those costs in human lives. I looked at some pictures today in National Geographic, the issue with a blue earth and a neon EAT sign upon it, about ship-breaking in Bangladesh; fourteen-year-olds huddled into small corners with acetylene torches, getting blown up by gas pockets, keeping warm by burning up pipe gaskets and getting lung cancer. Why aren't we reckoning these things into what we do? Why is fifty-three percent of Ontario's energy derived from nuclear energy, whose spent fuel cells have nowhere to go and a half-life that'll outlive my grand-children?

Oh, and happy international workers' day, everyone.

Comment edited by Joshua on 2014-05-01 23:30:46

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted May 04, 2014 at 23:46:50 in reply to Comment 100784

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 20:47:46

When I read about this law suit, well I found it ridiculous. Money grubbing, pathetic excuse of a human being.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 22:25:07

This particular case (from what I've read)is not so much about 'car culture' but about having connections to a police force. Sure it may have been different if the victim had of been in a car but I doubt.

From what I understand the drivers husband was either a member of the investigating force or had very close connections with them.

This is more a story about the thin blue line.

As for the lawsuit, it's something only a cop dream up

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 02:02:13

This is so weird.

Someone, in a comment or article, raises a concern(suggestion) about some subset of conditions/behaviours/whatever.

Just a few comments later, someone else assumes that the person was asserting that all conditions/behaviours/whatever are(should be) that way.

And then nonsensical hyperbole ensues.

It's just weird the way people read into things.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 02, 2014 at 08:09:53 in reply to Comment 100789

He did not raise just a concern. He made very clear and cogent points that cars and drivers are always to blame. I do not believe that any comment I have posted is nonsensical or hyperbole.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 02, 2014 at 09:24:01

I think you picked a poor example to illustrate your point. Let me preface by saying the woman in question is without a moral compass and utterly despicable. However, in this particular case, it was night, approx 0130 am, the boys were riding bikes without lights, down the middle of the road in an area with very poor to non existent street lighting. If cyclists (of which I am one) want to carry more influence over how bikes and the use of them are perceived in general and more importantly how incidents between cyclists and motorists are treated by police, courts and public opinion then it's incumbent on the cycling community to promote and foster safe riding practices as well as educate motorists/

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 02, 2014 at 09:37:19 in reply to Comment 100799

Honestly, It think the MTO and the bike industry itself are to blame for that.

I mean, most casual cyclists ride their bikes with the stock parts. That shouldn't be remarkable, most drivers don't add custom parts to their cars except for maybe like an iPod dock at most, and commuters have more disposable income and spend more time in their cars than the average teen-aged cyclist.

So, the point is that the default bike equipment is going to be the equipment that 90% of cyclists actually use.

And that equipment does not include all the various upgrades that are required for a bike to be legally ridden on public roads at night.

If somebody sold cars that couldn't be driven at night without modification, they'd be laughed out of the industry. So why do we accept this for bikes in Canada?

The MTO requires this:

a bike must have a white front light and a red rear light or reflector if you ride between 1/2 hour before sunset and 1/2 hour after sunrise and white reflective tape on the front forks and red reflective tape on rear forks.

I have never in my entire life seen a bike with white reflective tape on the front forks and red reflective tape on the rear forks... I have some white reflective tape I bought at MEC, but never got around to applying it to my bike. I've never even seen red reflective tape. Anywhere. Ever.

The MTO has completely failed to provide any leadership on this issue. At this point the only function this regulation serves is to provide a way to blame cyclists for night-time collisions. Has the MTO made any attempt to inform casual cyclists of this requirement? Do they give away packages full of reflectors and reflective tape? Do they mandate that all bikes sold in Ontario have all this equipment pre-installed? Have they sat down with their counterparts in the other 9 provinces/3 territories to synchronize bike lighting requirements so that manufacturers have a single nation-wide target for bike lighting? Have they done anything beside writing up a regulation and then post it to their website?

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-05-02 09:42:07

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 09:51:53 in reply to Comment 100801

Excellent point: I doubt even the police bikes are fully compliant (do they have the front and rear reflective tape?).

Why are bike shops allowed to sell bikes that don't comply, especially as led lights are so cheap and easy to use. Clearly the "reflective tape" is a bit of an anachronism (front and rear reflectors should be sufficient) and the relevant section should be re-written to reflect current equipment.

But all bikes should be sold with lights as well as reflectors. If racers want to take them off and only ride during the day, then that's their decision.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-05-02 09:54:33

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted May 04, 2014 at 23:51:01 in reply to Comment 100802

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 11:55:00 in reply to Comment 100802

Do you have an opinion on "fixies" without proper brakes? They seem to be all the rage with hipsters and certain hardcore cyclists these days.

I agree with the basic thrust of your article above, btw. From a safety perspective all the strategies employed by pedestrians and cyclists to avoid getting killed or maimed by cars or other moving vehicles do not change the basic equation: get into a collision with a car, bus, or train and you come out the loser.

That is why most pedestrians and cyclists exercise extreme caution everyday when navigating the city. I drive too, and hope to never get into an accident, but i realize the risks that come with the privilege of driving a car. I think of that each day as i walk my daughter to school and watch people speed up to the cross-walk and then accelerate past the school as if they are the only thing that matters. That is the most dangerous part of her day ... the 5 minutes when she is at the highest risk of being injured or killed. I wonder sometimes if some motorists realize that as they glare while waiting impatiently for us to use the cross-walk (note i said some, as many drivers smile and are courteous).

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 12:16:02 in reply to Comment 100810

Officially, the HTA 64(3) only requires a brake on the rear wheel only that can make the bike skid on dry pavement. This is obviously archaic ... they should be requiring front and rear brakes.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 12:32:43 in reply to Comment 100812

The purists use fixies without brakes at all, though I think most have front brakes. I find it a strange trend, but I've never rode one. Questioning the safety of these bikes can stir up pretty heated debate from what I've seen.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 14:43:07

In the late 1980's, when I took my drivers' eduaction class in order to get my licence, our instructor gave us a message that all drivers need to hear.

As a driver, it is your responsibility - your duty - to protect those around you who have less protection and move slower than you. That means conscious action to ensure you do not hurt others - driving at all times as if someone's life depends on it. If you cannot accept that responsibility, you do not deserve to be given control of such a dangerous tool as a motor vehicle.

There are no accidents. There are only collisions.

Any accident takes more than one party doing something wrong and you can avoid any collision by driving defensively and being aware of your surroundings at all times.

Far too many view driving a car as a right or a default position. As a result far too many of us are losing their lives and livelihoods. It is well past time to stop making excuses for those who fail to properly exercise their duty to protect others.

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By My spidey sense is tingling! (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2014 at 07:50:57 in reply to Comment 100822

Sounds like Uncle Ben was your driving instructor. "With great power comes great responsibility"

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 06, 2014 at 13:36:47

Well I won't speculate on what happened, but, has anyone notice how disproportionately elderly people are getting hit crossing streets in this city?

http://www.thespec.com/news-story/450282...

This is right in my (former) neighborhood too, where I have seen elderly pedestrians almost mowed down more than once.

I spent the last two months on crutches, and I can tell ya, if you can't move fast, crossing the street can (at times, in some spots) be bloody scary. Fortunately many people are nice and at least take their foot off the gas if they see someone struggling to cross. Sometimes they don't, and, well in this case, "... the pedestrian was propelled a considerable distance ..."

Again, I don't mean to speculate that the driver was entirely at fault, but there is a consistent pattern - the weak shall perish in the Hammer.

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