Friday, September 18, 2009

Another one.

I would have written something about this yesterday, except that my life was pretty hectic that day - two days ago a cyclist was killed on Sussex Drive when she was hit by a bus. As far as anyone can tell, she left the bike lane and wound up in the bus lane, and then got hit and dragged. She died at the scene. The CTV short video here has a few details, but not much.

I don't know which is worse, that this is just one more in a series of horrible bike/vehicle accidents in this town this year, or that it's the second time in a matter of months that an STO bus has killed someone. Or that in this case the bike lane may have contributed to the accident. (When there's a bike lane, people tend to assume that the bikes will stay in it: which isn't always the case. Sometimes you need to merge out of the bike lane in order to make a turn or avoid an obstacle. The bike lane can generate a false sense of predictability. Just today I found myself staying in the bike lane going over the bridge toward Saint Patrick and Crichton, when I should have ignored the bike lane and stayed in the right-turn lane so I could get onto the bike path - effectively, the bike lane caused me to get in a more dangerous position than ignoring it would have.) Or is it just the basic awful thought that friends of mine, on hearing the news, automatically thought to themselves, "Is there any reason Kate would have been on that street then?" Automatically worried for a moment that it could have been me. She was the same age as me after all.

What is going on? Why have we had so many fatal collisions this year? Are there more bikes on the road? It's irrational to feel as though motorists actively hate us (although some certainly do: I've seen evidence enough for that on the comment pages of most online articles about the subject.) But it's hard not to feel beseiged.

In this case though, it was a bus. That's even scarier. Buses are big, and their drivers are supposed to be professional drivers. But by that very token, they're also likely to be tired, or pulling an extra shift, or worn down by routine to the point where they're working on autopilot. And you might survive a collision with a Yaris. Not with a full-size city bus. If there should be separation between car traffic and bikes, all the more should there be separation between buses and bikes. I'm all for public transport, but I'm scared of some buses. Not all, mind you: there are drivers that hold up, give cyclists space, pull out and make sure they give you a couple of meters of clearance. But the ones that don't, well... we saw two days ago what happens.


  1. Well, when I saw the news about that cyclist, I did go through the inventory of why you might possibly have been there. Worried about it until I saw you pop in on facebook later that evening.

  2. Yeah, Sean Wilson said the same thing at work the next day: that as soon as he heard the news he thought, "Would Kate have any reason to be on Sussex then?" Creepy that she was the same age as me, too.

    I did the same thing (irrationally) when Al Sheppard was killed in Toronto at the beginning of the month. "What would my brother be doing on Bloor...?" Although, at least I could tell myself, firmly, that I knew Kit was _totally_ not likely to have gotten into a confrontation like that, so it couldn't have been him... didn't stop me calling him that night to make sure he was okay though.