It has been hard to digest the ruling that saw charges against Michael Bryant dropped after an incident that left Darcy Sheppard dead. I do give credit to the Ontario government for seeking an outside prosecutor for the case (even though the final outcome is disappointing).
I’m not exactly looking for vengence, political and public character assassination or revenge. In my opinion the tragic incident that left a cyclist dead was the result of two individuals. A cyclist over-reacting and a driver over-reacting.
Today’s Globe and Mail article misses the point. Yes, Darcy Sheppard repeatedly responded to drivers when he felt they threatened his safety on the road. He did so in some colourful and not so flowery ways (spitting or yelling back). Such a response could be understandable given that number of life threatening incidents that occur, not to just bike couriers, but everyday citizens. The pedestrian death toll this Spring was a testament not only to oblivious people crossing the road, but to dangerous drivers. It is far too easy to glaze over the indifference of drivers who would rather run others off the road than to delay their journey. I can say I’ve witnessed both sides of close calls but in the end road users make it bad for everyone.
From the surface, Darcy seemed to engage those who “crossed” his path. In my opinion that is not always wrong, criminal or unjustified. He chose to stand up for his personal safety in an often aggressive way but there are many non-violent ways to report or police a situation without taking it on one on one.
Darcy may have faced issues with addiction or mental health but the behaviour of at least two individuals led to this tragic end. The same ill advised escalation can often be witnessed at a bar fight. Two men enter, one leaves but often both are equally to blame. The saddest thing is that the major media and the court failed to recognize that. It seems that the prosecution feared the demonization of Darcy. Perhaps after much time and consultation they moved away from any conviction or charges against Bryant that would be hard fought to apply.
One can only hope that improvements to our streets, TTC and bike lanes come soon and that people travel with more respect for each other. Yet another dark chapter closes, hopefully some lessons were learned. Can’t we all just get to our destination?