Hundreds of cyclists clog Toronto streets and block traffic to protest High Park policing
Cyclists took to the streets in Toronto's west-end last night to protest the increased presence of police in High Park.
Organized by the Biking Lawyer and other cycling advocates in the city, Thursday's slow demonstration through High Park and along Parkside drew hundreds of bikers.
Together we rode, in great number & radical spirit. Thanks to everyone who collaborated, contributed, stood up & spoke out. You all are an inspiration. Much more work to be done, but yesterday was a powerful united step. #SafeStreetsNow #DefundthePolice Fund Safe Infrastructure. pic.twitter.com/RFQePEa2Lx— The Biking Lawyer (Dave Shellnutt) (@TheBikingLawyer) August 12, 2022
Videos from the scene show throngs of bikers clogging up the streets and blocking traffic at Bloor and Keele/Parkside.
That’s a lotta’ cyclists! pic.twitter.com/lYwiFShoZJ— Hafeez A. (@trainguy89) August 11, 2022
Visuals from the protest are astonishing, with helmets and tires as far as the eye can see.
Thank you to @TheBikingLawyer & his crew for yesterday's slow roll demonstration through High Park & up Parkside to protest TPS targeting cyclists instead of killer drivers, & @JohnTory being complicit in it all.— Sexual Health Educatrix (@sjfbarnett) August 12, 2022
These are OUR STREETS, where we live & die. pic.twitter.com/gX3zZKO1ym
Yesterday's protest comes after weeks of Toronto Police officers surveilling the park and issuing tickets for speeding bikers.
Bike protest in High Park, Toronto. Hundreds of bikers turned out to protest the egregious use of police force to target cycling of all things.— We Are Protestors (@WeAreProtestors) August 12, 2022
Instead than restricting cycling, a cleaner and more livable city ought to promote it.#BikersProtest #HighPark #Canada #support pic.twitter.com/4cR72IzMIl
It's a debate that has greatly divided the city, with many accusing Toronto Mayor John Tory of taking the side of motorists.
In a release issued from his office, Tory said he met with advocacy group Cycle Toronto on Aug. 10 and said he is "open to innovative solutions to help all park users better enjoy the park and respect each other."
"I was clear today in our meeting that of necessity involves everyone-every road user-respecting the law and accommodating each other. Is there a greater onus on car drivers to respect the law? Absolutely."
He encouraged Toronto Police to release the data on ticketed cyclists in the park, which was made public the following day.
Cyclists fed up with @TorontoPolice harassing cyclists in High Park block nearby @cityoftoronto intersection. Cops should go after real dangers: speeding cars, aggressive motorists @CycleToronto @BikewaysTO @ParkHPBikes pic.twitter.com/9O7OBgZWp1— Roger Morier (@MorierComms) August 12, 2022
Between Jan. 2021 and Aug. 10 just 16 traffic tickets were issued to cyclists at the park, according to police, compared to 1,215 traffic tickets to motorists in and around the High Park area.
My ride to High Park: two drivers run red lights— Cameron MacLeod 🇨🇦🏳️🌈🚊👨👨👦 (@c_9) August 11, 2022
In High Park: self-proclaimed off-duty police officer makes verbal threats about cyclists losing their rights
Leaving High Park: two more drivers run red lights, and a driver runs two sequential stop signs *in traffic*.
Many people in Toronto have shown support for the cyclists and believe High Park should ban motor vehicle access all together.
But at the same time, it seems an equal amount of residents blame cyclists for "dangerous" conditions in the park and want bikers to be treated the same as motorists.
I’m getting angry ready about these cyclist’s who think the rules of the road don’t apply to them— FunGuyPhotography (@FunGuy_Photo) August 12, 2022
It seems to me that the riders at High Park got use to #activeto and Covid keeping people homes
Obey the rules!#HighPark #BikeTO #bikelife #cyclinglife pic.twitter.com/oUg7wfPyEj
Either way, Toronto's cyclists have made it loud and clear where they stand.
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