Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bloor and Bay

Just about the first thing I heard this morning was the radio telling me that a cyclist had been killed in Toronto. All day I've been unable to escape the news, and every time I heard more detail I got more . . . depressed, frightened. Filled with a sort of vague apprehension and sense of horror. Partly because the descriptions of what happened were so gruesome.

You've probably heard the news stories. Here's one of them.

Note: I would not have known about this, in Ottawa, had a major politician (former Attorney General Michael Bryant) not been involved. Had it not happened at Bloor and Bay. Had it not been an expensive luxury convertible. And that's hard to think about. This wouldn't have made the news outside Toronto if he hadn't been 'important.'

Okay, I don't know what happened, I wasn't there. I heard horrific reports this morning, about the driver trying to knock the cyclist free of the car, then finally running over him with the back tires before driving away. The cyclist died later in the hospital. All day, I've been hearing news items and seeing things flash by on the web about the accident. There was an altercation between the cyclist and Bryant, and then he was knocked down, dragged around, and run over. But you know? It wasn't until tonight that I saw anyone print the name of the cyclist. His name was Darcy Allan Sheppard. He was 33, a bike courier and an amateur comedian. Apparently a bit of a hothead (and he did get into a fight with Bryant over the collision.)

I talked to my brother on the phone this evening and he said there's already a shrine at the intersection. People have left flowers and signs, stuck bikes to the telephone poles, unleashed some of their grief. There's a memorial planned for tomorrow, at 5:00 PM: people will gather at the intersection, lay their bikes down, and have a moment of silence. I wish I could be there. My brother said he will be.

We (and there is a 'we') really feel it when something like this happens. There is nothing connecting me and Al Sheppard except that we both rode bicycles. But that means a lot, because we all know that we face the same risks every morning when we go out there. It's hard not to feel an us-versus-them mentality about motorists, because we are threatened out there. And for most of us, it won't be a prominent politician in a luxury car that hits us, it'll be some commuter in a Toyota Tercel, and our injuries will be a minor incident in the business of the day.

If you're in Toronto, consider going down to Bloor and Bay for the memorial tomorrow. I wish I could.


  1. Ohmygod, Kate. I hadn't heard about this until just now. It's horrific.

    What goes through someone's mind so that dragging a person behind the car seems like a reasonable response to an altercation?

  2. Yeah, it's tragic all around. And I'm not even going to get into some of the things I've seen people saying in the comments on the online articles. Some of it just makes me sick. Hopefully this'll shake a few drivers, and cyclists, enough to get a little more civility happening...

    I have no idea what could have happened to escalate this so far: it's really sad.