– By Todd Aalgaard
Opened on June 19 along Toronto’s waterfront, the new Queen’s Quay bike lanes are certainly easy on the eyes, hugging the summertime lake shore with an attractive parallel route for pedestrians and cyclists. After months, even years, of construction dedicated to this phase of car-free infrastructure in Canada’s largest city, the tree-lined path along the Queen’s Quay, just south of Front Street, was an eagerly long-awaited one. When it was finally unveiled, it was a head-turner.
But after a recent altercation between one cyclist and pedestrian near its intersection with Simcoe Street, it proved to be a head-turner for all the wrong reasons.
Published by Metro News, the video depicts an especially irate pedestrian engaged in a dramatic confrontation with a cyclist, with the standoff escalating to blows when the pedestrian punched the cyclist in the face. The video was filmed by Toronto resident Pedro Marques, who was compelled to start filming when the argument, which had already been tense, starting to dramatically escalate.
Judging from the exchange in the video, it’s a common argument, just not always so intense.
The pedestrian shouts at the cyclist. “Where were you f***ing running through a red a light?” he yells, repeating himself a couple of times. The cyclist replies, “I slammed on my brakes; I was skidding,” punctuating his own comments with similarly colourful language. It’s at this point that the pedestrian starts kicking the cyclist’s bike, earning further expletives in response, and then punches him in the face after saying, “Really?”
The hit, Metro News said, was hard enough to be audible on video.
Over and over, his volume steadily rising, the pedestrian repeats that the cyclist had nearly hit him. The altercation settled somewhat when bystanders began to intervene, with no police involved and both parties leaving relatively peacefully, but the ugly encounter underscores concerns about the parallel space leading to other instances of traffic rage — or worse. To some cyclists in Toronto, the tight corridor is an accident waiting to happen. But they’re accidents that can be avoided by a little care from both parties, Marques suggested.
“I’m both a pedestrian and a cyclist and I get p***ed off when I see cyclists run a red,” he told Metro News, “especially on Queen’s Quay where there are all these pedestrians. I think the pedestrian was upset about the whole Queen’s Quay thing, where you constantly see these cyclists running reds and hitting pedestrians, or almost hitting pedestrians.”