Civility on wheels?

The war between cyclists and drivers is heating up, if you believe the media coverage of the ignorant, littering driver and the self-righteous cyclist. In case you haven’t heard – or seen the photos of the scuffle posted on Web – in Toronto recently, a driver in Kensington Market tossed some garbage out of his car. A female bike courier picked it up and tossed it back in. The cyclist was then, according to accounts, pushed around by the driver who was then threatened and hassled by some passersby (some were apparently not wading into the melee, taking the driver’s side in the incident. Toronto drivers and cyclists spend a lot of time at each other’s throats, often for good reason. Drivers complain about unpredictable cyclists weaving in and out of traffic. Cyclists complain drivers cut them off and leave them very little room on road, if any at all. The media has been examining the relationship for several days now. But the bike courier has said that what really prompted her to throw the garbage back into the car was that the driver had littered, offending her environmental sensibilities. Most people would react angrily (or should react angrily) to seeing garbage flung out of a car. But how many of us would do what this woman did? In an article in the Saturday Globe and Mail she said she did it because she’s powerless to change much in the world, but she felt this was an area where she could take action. If the tension didn’t already exist in Toronto between cars and bikes, her actions would probably have been greeted with much less hostility. Still, it’s hard to say what would happen if two pedestrians on a sidewalk disagreed over where garbage should be thrown.

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