Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Facts & (Many) Arguments

I don't usually read the "Facts & Arguments" reader-written essay in the Globe & Mail (usually too cute or maudlin), but I was struck by the illustration and the accompanying personal memoir in today's section. Well, struck is definitely the wrong word.

The story is a haunting and poignant account about getting hit by a truck while cycling, dragged for 100 metres, nearly dying, and then slowly and painfully recovering until the author could bike again. Brutal stuff, close to home, and vividly written. (A caveat: avoid the online audio version read, I'm sure, by a cheesy "voice actor" and not Kyle G. Brown himself.) There's hard-learned wisdom, too:

One year on, the driver who ran me over has yet to be tried. If convicted, he faces a maximum fine of $120 for making an unsafe turn.

But my fury isn't focused on him as much as on a society that honours pseudo-virtues of comfort and convenience at the altar of the automobile. It's directed at people who profess a love for the environment while driving distances a brief bike ride away. My ire is aimed at commentators who characterize the building of bike lanes as part of the “war on cars.”

Unlike most "Facts and Arguments" essays, this one set off a flurry of online comments and debate that reveal (surprise!) that drivers and cyclists are still a long way from seeing eye to eye.

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