toronto cyclists ticket

The internet fires back at Toronto bike cops targeting cyclists with $325 tickets

A group of Toronto bike cops were handing out $325 tickets to cyclists on Monday, and photos of the apparent enforcement blitz have angered social media users.

Shortly after 1 p.m. on Monday, a group of bike cops doled out hefty fines to cyclists caught advancing through the busy Yonge and Dundas intersection on the pedestrian walk signal prior to the traffic lights turning green.

Personal injury lawyer and cyclist rights advocate David Shellnutt shared an account of the events, acknowledging that the rules of the road clearly state that advancing before a green light is a violation, while advocating for changes to be made.

Despite what some dusty old law book says, Shellnutt suggests that bike cops should be held to the same standards as they impose on the public, alluding to the countless cases where police on bicycles have been recorded riding on sidewalks and making incomplete stops at stop signs.

A couple of hours after witnessing the initial activity at Yonge and Dundas, Shellnutt would later receive reports of a similar blitz ongoing at Peter and Queen. This report was corroborated by another user.

A handful of users have rightly pointed out that cars entering intersections before a green traffic signal poses a much greater risk to public safety than bike, yet they are being held to similar standards.

Multiple replies include photos of cars breaking the same rule, a problem frequent enough that one user claims it's a daily occurrence on their commute.

That's not to say that one should be more illegal than the other, but the issue here, according to commenters, is consistency. Critics allege that police are enforcing the law selectively with a focus on taking down cyclists for violations that bike cops have, themselves, been recorded engaging in.

One tweet calls on newly-elected mayor Olivia Chow to step in and level the playing field with a universal zero-tolerance policy, whether you're a bike, car, cop, civilian, or any combination of those options.

An outspoken voice in the cycling community, Shellnutt similarly says that "our hope is that our newly elected mayor and council can right this safety wrong, rein in anti-cyclist police, and ensure all vulnerable road user safety is prioritized in Toronto."

Shellnutt tells blogTO that in car-centric Mississauga, their local municipal government approved a new policy in late June that would allow pedestrians to get a five-second head start over motorists at signalized intersections.

"However, further down in the press release, it appears as though cyclists will not be allowed to use the pedestrian 'Head Start Signals' to safely enter an intersection before motor vehicles – only Bike Head Start Signals," says Shellnutt.

He says that "In Toronto where these advanced Pedestrian signals exist as well, it is hotly debated amongst the cycling community what is legal and what is the safest option when that Pedestrian Head Start Signal/Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) pops up."

Curiously, Shellnutt notes that though there were hints this LPI would apply to both pedestrians and cyclists, the City seems to have backed away from that plan.

Shellnutt points to data he says "does not in any meaningful way suggest that cyclist and pedestrian conflicts leading to serious injury occur at any frequency comparable to that of motorist and pedestrian collisions. Like not even in the same stratosphere."

"However, Toronto Police have been fining cyclists for this."

This surprise cyclist ticketing blitz at Yonge and Dundas comes just days after police were seen halting pedestrian traffic with time still left on the crossing counter, all to allow motorists in climate-controlled boxes onto a gridlocked Gardiner Expressway as foot traffic was forced to wait for another half-minute while breathing in car exhaust below.

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