Toronto cyclists say police are unfairly targeting them
Over the last few summers, the tension between Toronto police and local cyclists mounted to an all-time high with cops cracking down on anyone going too fast on two wheels, especially in High Park, which became somewhat of a battleground between the two groups.
Authorities have been whipping out their radar guns and launching ticketing blitzes, which some say are unfair and a poor allocation of resources that could be focused on drivers instead.
Now, advocates are putting further pressure on politicians to intervene, with a new open letter asserting that "the priorities of the TPS are not aligned with the road safety needs of our communities" as summer approaches.
Targeting people on their morning commute by bike, reducing congestion and fighting climate change. On brand for @TrafficServices @TorontoPolice https://t.co/x4hMY5Y5J0— The Biking Lawyer (Dave Shellnutt) (@TheBikingLawyer) May 8, 2023
"We condemn targeting cyclists for HTA offences in a park devoid of serious collisions as a misdirected effort to protect Torontonians, especially given that data on adjacent roadways has reported a staggering number of motor vehicle collisions resulting in serious injury," writes David Shellnutt of The Biking Lawyer.
"We request that City Council reach out to TPS to encourage traffic enforcement be prioritized by need and focused on danger zones in our city."
Meanwhile, I constantly see drivers brazenly violate the restrictions in the King street pilot area and very rarely do you see active police enforcement. https://t.co/8E8LvcIw9h— Erik Johnson (@erikandrewj) May 10, 2023
But, the force assures blogTO that officers are not at all targeting cyclists in particular, but simply everyone who exhibits "aggressive and unsafe activity." The police in High Park are also often responding to specific concerns from the public.
"Officers do stop by High Park as part of their daily shifts to enforce traffic rules and to respond to complaints," Media Relations Officer Victor Kwong says.
"This is a small part of the traffic enforcement we conduct each day and officers largely focus on education and cautions when attending the park in an attempt to keep all users as safe as possible. The vast majority of traffic enforcement the Service engages in each day in Toronto is focused on motorists."
Agreed but why would police not concentrate their attention on the cars disobeying these rules rather than cyclist who cause virtually no harm to people (6 killed or seriously injured by 🚲 vs 17,000 by automobile since 2006(.— Jeremiah Shamess (@JShamess) July 18, 2022
Incidents like the time the cops issued a fine to a cyclist who was in the hospital after being struck by a vehicle and when a police cruiser actually hit a cyclist have certainly not helped the issue, nor did the two-day blitz during which the force ticketed almost as many cyclists as drivers for traffic offences.
Cyclists responded last summer by hosting a takeover of High Park and engaging in activism in other ways. We'll have to see whether the drama continues to mount as we hit peak cycling season, which it almost certainly will given that bike lanes have been such a contentious issue among mayoral candidates, with at least one vowing to remove some of the existing cycling infrastructure.
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