There is a tragic story playing-out just north of Toronto. It involves a woman, Sharlene Simon, a 42-year old mother of three, who has launched a $1.35M lawsuit. Where it gets weird is when you consider she has taken legal action against a 17-year old boy she killed in a car accident last October. The lad and his friends were cycling at night when they were knocked down by Simon’s SUV.
She claims that the boys’ actions late on that rainy night were the reason the accident happened; that although she was not responsible she suffers from anxiety and PTSD for which she would like to be compensated. This has caused reactions that vary from head shaking to outright fury.
I have a very hard time accepting her claim, not the part about her suffering; I think any normal person would feel badly about taking a life, but the part where she is going after the grieving family.
Let me state that I have no idea what happened the night of the tragic accident, so what I am about to present should be taken in general terms.
In North America there is a constant push and pull between cyclists and motorists in urban and suburban areas. With the proliferation of dedicated bicycle lanes the problem changes but does not go away. Many, not all, but a substantial number of cyclists bend or break the rules of the road on a regular basis. Often this puts them in physical danger. Aside from the concern for their own well-being, does it ever cross their minds the effect on a driver who, while heeding all regulations, hits them? Even if it wasn’t the driver’s fault, I believe there can be a dramatic effect on his or her life.
Countless times I have come across cyclists making their way along a local bike lane at night, in dark clothes with no light. God forbid it should be raining. Do they really think they are visible? I pity the poor driver who collides with a cyclist who seems to come out of nowhere as much as I feel sorry for the bike rider.
One of the first things they teach new drivers is to “drive defensively”. Make sure others know where you are and what you want to do. Doesn’t that hold doubly true for cyclists?