Happy bike messenger appreciation week. Have you hugged your local bike courier today?
For friends and colleagues of Darcy Allan Sheppard, the courier killed in that altercation with former attorney general Michael Bryant a few weeks back, there will be little to celebrate.
The die has been cast. The PR war in bike versus car engaged. And the forces behind Bryant seem to be winning in the court of public opinion, thanks to the fancy stick handling of Navigator, the high-priced damage control outfit hired by the former pol.
Couriers tried to counter the negative publicity following Sheppard's death, namely, the stories in the mainstream press that he'd been drinking that fateful night, and that he was wanted by police for passing bad cheques out west.
A press conference was held by the fledgling Toronto Bike Messenger Association a couple of Fridays back. A statement read. But no questions taken from the assembled media, and with it an opportunity to reverse the damning spin on Sheppard's life blown.
A shame Sheppard's defenders couldn't muster a little fury for the cameras, struck a blow for bikers while the iron was still lukewarm, and the public was still paying attention.
Now, the death that shocked a city, made even the staunchest auto-crats take note, if not have a little sympathy on cyclists, seems oh-so yesterday, nothing but a blur.
For a few days after Sheppard's horrific death - one eyewitness suggested Bryant deliberately rammed the cyclists into a mailbox as he hung onto Bryant's car for dear life - there was peace on the streets.
It seemed as though drivers and cyclists alike had been moved by the tragedy. There but for the grace of god etc...
The optimists among us wanted to believe, hoped against hope, that Sheppard's death would mark a seminal moment in the war on the road of two wheels versus four. That a newfound respect would be born. A couple of motorists actually apologized for cutting me off on the way home one day.
Didn't take long, however, for the rage and resentment to seep back into the crosstown static. And for superfreaks in Mac trucks and bike-hating dicks with a bad case of testosterone overdrive to get up to their old, life-threatening tricks.
Even the so-called warriors among us two-wheelers find ourselves retreating to the sidewalks, where and when we can, to avoid the motorized mayhem. How many more have to die?
Rather than marking a watershed moment for cycling safety in this city, Sheppard's death may just end up giving drivers more justification for pushing cyclists off the road. He was half-sauced, after all, right?[rssbreak]