Toronto park has become a battleground between police and cyclists
High Park has become a key battleground in Toronto cyclists' fight for the infrastructure and policy required to safely navigate the city.
Uniformed Toronto Police officers and traffic cops have staked out the park in recent weeks, issuing speeding tickets to cyclists exceeding the 20 km/h limit on park roads and paths, a move that has triggered an outcry from the biking community.
David Shellnutt of Biking Lawyer LLP, a law firm representing injured cyclists, tweeted about another traffic stop in the police's apparent war on High Park cyclists, saying, "Armed Toronto Police officers continue to harass cyclists in High Park. This person was ticketed for going 26 in a 20. All I feel is rage."
Armed @TorontoPolice officers continue to harass cyclists in High Park. This person was ticketed for going 26 in a 20. All I feel is rage. #DefundThePolice. Make High Park car free: https://t.co/QRYICS8tAQ pic.twitter.com/fyLQaHIBqj— The Biking Lawyer (Dave Shellnutt) (@TheBikingLawyer) July 25, 2022
Shellnutt tells blogTO that he spoke with the cyclist stopped by (fully-equipped and armed) police, who offered a brief account of the incident.
"The police officer was driving his car in the bike lane, so I tried to get around him from the left," said the ticketed cyclist.
"He gave me a warning for speeding. I asked him not to drive in the bike lane and squeeze people in. He proceeded to speed up, pull up in front of me in an aggressive way and make me stop.
"I asked the officer if he was detaining me or I was gonna leave. He said I was gonna get a ticket. $65 for 'engaging in prohibited activity.'"
The ongoing ticketing blitz has brought increased attention to the park over the past several weeks.
Police are staking out cyclists with radar guns to catch them speeding in a Toronto park https://t.co/ZPxQ1G7m5h #Toronto— blogTO (@blogTO) June 22, 2022
Cyclists recently took over the park's roads for a high-speed display of civil disobedience, while the car lobby has fired back with a petition to ban bikes from the public space.
Shellnutt characterizes the blitz as an "ongoing targeting of cyclists in High Park" and says that the ticketing " feels like purposeful harassment to the cycling community as we ride across the city and see traffic infractions and dangerous driving proliferate with impunity."
Echoing the calls of other cycling safety advocates, Shellnutt demands that "municipal leaders intervene and caution an overzealous and poorly directed police force" and calls out the blitz as "an irrational and poorly thought out use of police resources."
To that end, Shellnutt has drafted a letter to Mayor John Tory calling on the city to step in and put the Toronto Police Service "on notice."
Join the conversation Load comments