By: Aschille Clarke-Mendez
Riding down Toronto’s alleys at this time of year can be very refreshing. Imagine cool, city air blowing your hair wildly about as snowflakes float onto your face. The experience is even more riveting when you’re inebriated. Fun as it maybe, this provides for haphazard, and often dangerous, confrontation with other road-users. Downtown Toronto cyclists cause enough mayhem as it stands. The frustration directed toward this brand of vehicle is only heightened when the cyclist is recklessly smashed.
How lethal is a drunken cyclist to others on the road? According to Transport Canada, Canada’s alcohol-related accidents’ statistics for 2000 are 210 deaths for drivers of “Off-road vehicles,” which includes bicycles, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, etc. Out of this number, 180 of the people involved were drunk. This figure accounts for 7.7 per cent of all fatal, alcohol-related crashes for that year.
Isolating the death toll of cyclists is difficult because this group encompasses multiple types of vehicles. Odds are stacked unfavourably for cyclists. Unless there are ranks of spears protruding from your bicycle like a medieval chariot, it’s highly unlikely that you’ve injured too many people, or totalled many cars. In fact, I can’t recall the last time I saw a motor vehicle in the morgue.
While fatalities caused by bicycles are relatively low, appropriate legislature guarding against reckless cycling should exist, at least for the unlucky hiker’s sake. The British Columbia Motor Vehicle’s Act, Section 183 (1) states, “. . . a person operating a cycle on a highway has the same rights and duties as a driver of a vehicle.” This seems to close the case on the pedestrian-vehicle ambiguity. nevertheless, the severity of cycling drunk cannot bear the same weight as driving hammered. One can’t imagine the incentive for an officer to track down every cyclist who looks unsteady on the road. They don’t pose the same threat as two metric tonnes of Toyota. And they don’t make for good highway chases.
This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/news/drinking-and-riding/.