Thursday, September 18, 2008

death of a cyclist

Today a woman was killed by a bus as she cycled to work along Swanston St. Of course this street is an obstacle course the likes of which even Indiana Jones has never encountered. Tyre-swallowing tram tracks, huge tourist buses, erratic taxis, horses and carriages, inattentive pedestrians talking on mobile phones, 10 tonne trams, lost motorists (the street is supposed to be closed to motorists as a through-way), delivery vans and... cyclists. During shopping hours this street rates in the vicinity of "X-treme Sport". It makes a Madison seem like a jaunt by the seaside on a shopping bike.

Apparently a large number of cyclists gathered this evening to pay their respects to the deceased woman. Its marvellous that the death of a cyclist can galvanise others and for what other reason than they share a common mode of transport? This is lovely, this idea that cycling can unite people. Do motorists gather at the scene of a car crash hours after the ambulance has departed to commemorate the needless loss of life? Not as far as I know. Perhaps the friends and family might visit the place to lay a wreathe or install a cross by the roadside. Anonymous motorists don't usually attend. Do they?

Motorists isolate themselves from the world, " shiny metal boxes. Contestants in a suicidal race..." (The Police). Cyclists are open to the elements and often one another. I acknowledge other cyclists as I pass them in the street. The complement, the recognition of my existence, is almost always returned. Sadly this openness to the world allows a cyclist to be hit. This is always a tragedy.


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