Two stories have come to light in recent days, both featuring a reversal of the typical transportation pecking order.
First up, a cyclist in Toronto stood his ground against an errant SUV driver. After the motorist almost knocked down a cyclist while attempting to make an illegal right hand turn, the cyclist refused to yield to the SUV. The irate motorist persisted in honking and trying to make the illegal turn before finally giving in and attempting to drive away – just as the police arrived on the scene and pulled the motorist over. Best of all: the cops were on bikes! Ahh, the sweet, sweet justice of it all.
See the video from CityNews.ca after the jump (external link):
I’m not advocating the behavior but, while the wisdom of playing David to this metal Goliath may be questionable, I can relate to the cyclist’s frustrations and refusal to back down. After having your life threatened on the roads, it’s easy to get riled beyond the reins of reason.
The second incident happened in London, this time with the cyclist as the aggressor and an 84-year-old Baroness taking on the role of fed-up equalizer. Tory peer Baroness (I’m not exactly sure what the heck that means either) Sharples was crossing the street when a cyclist blew a traffic light, careening dangerously close to her.
Sharples wound up and struck the cyclist with her handbag, telling the Daily Mail that her only regret was not hitting the cyclist harder. She went on to say that cyclists are increasingly ignoring traffic laws and have, in some instances, become a “ruddy nuisance.”
Sharples’ late husband, Tory MP Sir Richard Sharples, had advocated for a mandatory licensing for all cyclists in the early 70’s. Those calls are being revived in London. "Cyclist etiquette would improve if they could no longer remain anonymous," said Tory MP Mark Pritchard.
Baroness Sharples spoke about her incident in the House of Lords during a debate on road safety.
She asked the government’s transport spokesman Lord Bassam: "Can the Minister say whether I am within my rights when, at a pedestrian crossing, a cyclist rides straight at me when I have the lights in my favour?
"I swiped one with a bag the other day. Would I be in trouble?"
Lord Bassam replied: "I will be careful on this. I am a great admirer of the noble baroness, and I think she probably did the right thing."
England has had enough trouble with people inciting violence against cyclists (London Times columnist Matthew Parris infamously asked recently: What’s smug and deserves to be decapitated?). While I respect Sharples’ chutzpah, and agree that cyclists’ best course of action towards gaining road access and legal protection involves obeying the laws, condoning corporal punishment in the crosswalks seems like a poor tone for parliament to set.
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