The death of Toronto bike messenger Wesley McLean in 1934 has a lesson for the case against Michael Bryant
Mess Media, October 1, 2009
The tragic death of Toronto bike messenger, Darcy Allan Sheppard and the resulting charges faced by Michael Bryant highlights the risks cyclists endure on our roads and the challenge all road users cope with sharing our streets.
But this is not an unfamiliar situation for Toronto. Cyclists and motorists have confronted these challenges for at least a hundred years with little progress.
Seventy-five years ago, in 1934, another Toronto bike messenger was the victim of a selfish and negligent driver whose only concern was himself. Similarly to Michael Bryant, the killer from long ago employed advocates to construct a narrative that blamed the dead victim.
Downtown Toronto streets in the 1930’s were not much different than today. The glory days of cars from the 1950’s through the 1970’s were yet to come. Cyclists, pedestrians, motorists and streetcars shared the roads and cyclists were well represented in the mix.
The streets were filled with hundreds of bicycle messengers too. They worked for telegraph companies, courier companies, department stores and drug stores. In 1937, the Tamblyn Drug Store chain boasted of employing over 300 Toronto bicycle messengers in their drug stores alone.