After many years of jealously hearing about Copenhagen’s bike highways, I have come to accept that the car is the preferred mode of transportation here. The car is comfortable, convenient and allows for supreme laziness, all important traits of the North American lifestyle. But there is a small group of people that do not (or can not) drive. They are the poor (can’t afford it), the hipsters (single speeds are expensive AND florescent) and the cheapskates (myself) that hate the cost of the car and enjoy the outdoors and exercise. This small group faces a big obstacle to their favorite mode of transportation- death. Um, yes…DEATH… like,the end of their life. I am not being dramatic. This summer scores of Torontonians were killed. They get caught in the streetcar tracks and pummelled by a 500 ton streetcar. They get “doorprized” ie. a parked car opens their door just as they are
passing and they are sent flying over the handlebars. Or, in a case this week, a driver simply hits them and then drives off. Death is quite the price to pay for riding a bicycle. I don’t mean to get political or bore you with the state of Toronto’s municipal politics. But the reaction to such events is a bit counter-intuitive. It’s to label anyone who cycles a pinko and to remove bike lanes. The idea here is that if drivers have free reign, they can move about how they see fit and easily swerve around the cyclist. Or, maybe the real hope is that the crazy cyclists will simply recognize their naivety, and allow their bikes to rust in their oversized garage like a good North American. Whatever the intention, the result pits driver in a heavy vehicle against the peddler on a featherweight bicycle. It’s a match-up that rarely ends well and exacts a heavy toll for a bit of fresh air and a few bucks saved.