Montreal might be behind shutdown of Toronto's car-shaming bike cop
The saga of Toronto's most famous bike-riding parking enforcement officer continues this week as local citizens, cyclists and even city councillors speak out in support of Kyle Ashley's work.
Ashley, who was suspended from Twitter last week over complaints about the "appropriateness" of his tweets, is still off work according to the Toronto police association.
An investigation into Ashley's feed is ongoing, and while police won't discuss the nature of the alleged complaints, it's widely believed that they stem from the officer's use of social media to take photos of (and scold) motorists who park in bike lanes.
Passed so many cars blocking bike lanes today. Wished the twitterverse still had our @TorontoPolice #biketo Parking Pal. #BringBackKyle— Shawna Caspi (@shawnacaspi) November 6, 2017
Police spokesman Mark Pugash did, however, acknowledge that a manager had spoken to Ashley previously about complaints from Montreal – where his "park shaming" Tweets were popular among cyclists, and where an election just saw Denis Coderre voted out of the mayor's office.
City Councillor Shelley Carroll told The Star on Monday that while she admired Ashley's work, she worried his tweets had become too political.
"It is really important going into an election year to not have a Toronto police employee taking up sides and engaging in a direct way in politics," she said.
Supporters of Ashley disagree, arguing that he is being denied fundamental freedoms.
PEO Kyle Ashley is a tremendous asset to the #BikeTO community. Let's call on @TorontoPolice to #BringBackKyle! https://t.co/TxKnbjW2Rf— Robert Zaichkowski (@RZaichkowski) November 6, 2017
"The members and supporters of Toronto's cycling community demand the restoration of Twitter handle @TPS_ParkingPal," reads a change.org petition started by local cyclist Julie Mollins.
"We believe PEO Ashley plays a crucial role as a defender of cyclist safety throughout Toronto and we denounce the removal of his right to democratic free expression."
In just under 24 hours, the petition has racked up about 150 signatures. On Twitter, the support is even stronger with hundreds of tweets calling for Ashley's reinstatement, many of them using the hashtags #BikeTO and #BringBackKyle.
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