For those of us who reside down here in her dirty pant cuffs it's tempting to imagine Canada as an endearingly polite idyll with free health care and a dreamy prime minister:
However, every so often something comes along to shatter our illusion and remind us that our unassuming neighbor to the north also has its share of violence-prone pickup truck-driving troglodytes:
PETERBOROUGH—A driver has been charged after a dramatic video showed a 74-year-old cyclist viciously attacked on the side of the road with a club.
Peterborough police said that just after 11 a.m. Tuesday, the cyclist was riding in the area of Erskine Ave. when an argument broke out between him and a truck driver.
The driver climbed out of his truck and attacked the cyclist with a small club, police said.
Unlike his stateside counterparts he's wearing sandals:
But the dissimilarities end there.
“The sound of the club hitting him was sickening,” the woman told the newspaper. “Blood was flying off it.”
She said she didn’t witness what led to the encounter.
“They were flailing their arms around and the guy walked back to his truck,” she said.
I'm going to go ahead and guess what led to this encounter is the same thing that leads to every instance of driver-on-cyclist road rage, which is that the driver nearly killed the cyclist with his giant motor vehicle by doing something stupid or selfish or both, and the cyclist had the audacity to exercise his self-preservation instinct by trying not to die.
Just a hunch.
Still, not all Canadian pickup truck drivers are bad, and some might even save you from a bear attack:
He began hitting his horn to get the cyclist’s attention, seeing that his speed would not outrun the bear.
“Finally he looked over at me and I said, ‘You’ve got a grizzly bear about 25 feet behind you.’ He looked back and went, ‘Oh!’ and started to pound on the pedals.”
Here's what a touring cyclist looks like when he's being pursued by an ursine wheelsucker:
And here's a bear who has locked on to the irresistible scent of pannier stuffed to capacity with dried meats and dirty chamois:
At this point you may be wondering, "What should I do if I find myself being chased by a bear?" Well, here are some things you can try:
Though it doesn't address various concerns specific to cyclists, chief among them being "What pressure should I be running?"
Nevertheless, the number one threat to our well-being continues to be idiots driving cars, and while self-driving technology may soon factor the idiots out of the equation you can be sure the auto-industrial complex will figure out new ways to make safety your problem:
On a recent afternoon, Rowe pedaled a white Bianchi Brava bicycle up and down a busy street in the city's university district. His bike was loaded with gear: the antenna of a GPS unit extended above his head in a long plastic tube, a laser range finder called a LIDAR measured the precise position of everything around the bike, four inertial measurement units captured motion, a water bottle held a battery, a computer collected all that information, and every other spoke carried a speedometer.
"I would not be happy if I had to ride this every day," says Rowe, hopping off the bike. "But hopefully when all of this stuff just gets embedded in a cellphone on the front, then it should be no problem."
Oh, sure, helping the machines help you seems innocent enough, but it's not too hard to imagine a future in which this sort of technology becomes mandatory. And while that might not seems like such a big deal either (after all, we're all riding around with phones anyway), in practice it could have many of the same implications of a helmet law, such as enforcement for not using it falling disproportionately on certain segments of the population. Plus, the auto industry has been deflecting responsibility onto more vulnerable road users since the days of the hand-cranked engine, so why should we expect this to be any different? I'm sure the traffic light and all the other controls we're familiar seemed like good ideas at the time, and of course we couldn't imagine life without them now, but really what they served to do was wrest control of the streets from anyone who wasn't driving a car. You're already fair game out there, and being forced to get "wired up" before riding a bike (even if it's just flipping a virtual toggle switch on your phone) feels like a final act of surrender.
Of course, we all know who's going to sell us out first: the Freds. They're used to riding while connected anyway so will no doubt embrace this technology, and from there we'll soon reach a point when "serious" cyclists sneer at anybody riding without LIDAR in the same way they currently do ay anyone who rides without first putting on a foam hat. And who do you think will be the first country on earth to bend over and willingly accept mandatory GPS cycling suppositories? Yeah, that's right:
You have been warned.