When an 81 Year Old Driver Kills An 84 Year Old Cyclist, Why Do They Blame The Victim?

jack roper cyclist killed


The Toronto media went insane last month when a cyclist hit a pedestrian and injured her; (see The War On Bikes In Toronto Just Got A Poster Child) Suddenly everyone was calling for licensing of bikes, mandatory insurance and testing.

This week, an 84 year old cyclist was killed after he "collided" with a car. (Given that he was stuck under the car and it had to be lifted off him, it is hard to see how he "collided," but that is another story.) The 81 year old driver of the car was not charged. James at the Urban Country and Herb at IbikeTO do a good job of dealing with the issue of the disparity in the media's response to the bike-on-pedestrian vs car-on-cyclist, so I will ask another question: Why are 81 year old drivers allowed on the road without being tested? Why are the media not jumping on this question?

cyclist memorial photo

Image credit Lloyd Alter from Taking Back the Streets: Cyclist Memorials

This gets personal. My late father told me that he hoped he didn't live to be 80 because they would take his licence, and he thought his freedom, away. Unfortunately he got his wish. At that time, drivers had to get retested at 80; then Ontario Premier Mike Harris (who I still blame for everything that is wrong in the world) changed the rules so that they only had to do an eye test and a short written exam, ensuring that the Conservative Party got the seniors' vote forever.

My mom loved her little Echo and the freedom to drop into a store or an art gallery, or go out to a restaurant with her friends. She was a terrible driver, but if we ever suggested that she hang up the keys, she would threaten to disown us, there was no talking to her about it.

Last year at age 92 she sideswiped a BMW, which triggered a requirement for a drivers test, including a highway drive. She took the eye test and failed; got new glasses and took it again and passed. She took the written test and failed; studied some more and passed. She practiced on the highway with me in the car; I nearly died of fright. She took the driving test and failed, so badly that they took her licence away on the spot. She spent last summer with driving instructors and tried again, failed, and finally got the message. We were so relieved; she was an accident waiting to happen.

bike memorial image

So this is a roundabout way of asking, why, when an 84 year old cyclist is killed by an 81 year old driver, why do the media complain that the cyclist was not wearing a helmet and that there should need testing and licences for cyclists, but there is not a peep about mandatory testing of 80 year old drivers?

According to USA Today:

Fatality rates for drivers begin to climb after age 65, according to a recent study by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, based on data from 1999-2004. From ages 75 to 84, the rate of about three deaths per 100 million miles driven is equal to the death rate of teenage drivers. For drivers 85 and older, the fatality rate skyrockets to nearly four times higher than that for teens.

And yet when an 81 year old driver kills an 84 year old cyclist, everyone blames the victim and demands bike licensing and there is not a peep, anywhere, about whether 81 year old drivers should be relicenced. Why is there this disconnect?

Because there are millions of voting seniors who can't live without their cars, and seniors are about the only people who pay for newspapers anymore. But cyclists? Who cares as long as they get out of the way.

More on bikes in Toronto
The War On Bikes in Toronto Moves Onto The Sidewalks
The War On Bikes In Toronto Just Gets Sillier And Sillier
The War On Bikes In Toronto Just Got A Poster Child

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