Thursday, February 02, 2006

An Eternal Battle

Many of you have likely heard about the recent altercation between a motorist and a bicyclist in Kensington Market, precipitated by the bicyclist's act of retaliation against the motorist's littering. I won't rehash the details (they can be found here and here), but it is worth reflecting on what this incident reveals about two enduring, and conflicting, roles. The motorist and the pedestrian are constantly set up as opposing forces: who has a more legitimate claim to the street? Is one privileged over the other? Does this change, depending on what part of the city you are in? Could this have happened in the suburbs?

One consequence of this incident is that it has sparked a major on-line debate (see the first link above) as commentators argue about pedestrian rights versus driver's rights, the responsibilities of spectators and the need to respect public space, among other things. The sides are equally represented, as the battle between motorist and pedestrian rages on.


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