I read this blog post today, which makes the point (removing all the weighting of the bike-vs-car angle) that by any lights the justice system broke down in the Bryant/Sheppard case. In that case, it shouldn't be only cyclists that are protesting: but of course, for all the reasons that I talked about, they're the ones that are the most frightened - or, okay, angered, which is pretty much the same thing - by this case. That sense of social powerlessness you feel when the justice system bends to favor those with influence is all too similar to that sense of powerlessness you get when battling roads and infrastructure and attitudes clearly meant to favor motor traffic, right?
"Remember that Bryant’s hands weren’t completely clean. He fled the scene to a hotel and only called the police after the fact. He left a bleeding Sheppard lying at the side of the road and did nothing to assist him.
Did those delays and evasions cost Sheppard his life? We’ll never know now. Why wasn’t he charged with Failing to Remain at the scene of an accident? We’ll never know that either but I do know that if I ever left the scene of a fatal accident and did nothing to help that I would be charged forthwith. No question. That’s how our system works – or is supposed to work. Allegations are made, charges are laid and defences are advanced. That’s the beauty of our adversarial process. Two sides meet, advance their theories and somewhere in the middle the truth will out. And for the most part, it works – when we allow it to."
The full article is here.
Added May 28: ThumbShift, a Toronto blog, has another interesting point to make about both the public relations power Bryant wielded (which led to the media's portrayal of Sheppard as a violent addict: she also suggests that a more detailed picture of the incident would have surfaced in a trial than in the 500-word coverage you get in the media), and why we're so quick to ignore the root causes of the road rage that led to the tragedy.