Police target speeding cyclists in Toronto parks; Drum and Bass on a Bike… or “some sort of disruptive demonstration”? + more on the live blog

A Toronto-based personal injury lawyer and cycling advocate has criticised what he says is a “targeted campaign” by police officers to catch speeding cyclists in the city’s parks.

Police were spotted earlier this week using radar guns in the Canadian city’s High Park, a popular haunt for cyclists who ride through it to avoid the busy – and often dangerous – bike lanes in the area.

David Shellnut is one of a number of Toronto cyclists critical of the campaign, in place since at least the summer of 2020, which the lawyer argues is a waste of resources, citing the police’s own data on injuries caused by cyclists compared to drivers to support his case.

“A friend of mine [was] going through the park on his way to work and [was given] a $120 ticket,” Shellnut told blogTO. 

“The next week, he was biking in the bike lane adjacent to the park — he likes the park to keep safe — so he’s like, ‘I guess I’ll just go on the bike lane next to it,’ and gets hit by a right-turning driver who fails to yield the right of way and smashes his collarbone.

“The driver gets less of a ticket than my client did for speeding on his 70s Raleigh in High Park.”

Shellnut continued: “People are getting killed on the street next to [the park]. It does not make a lick of sense what they’re trying to do.

“If your guys every year have to ask for another $25 million and resources are tight, what are they doing spending money on things that aren’t actually a problem? There are no stats to back up what they’re doing.”

The lawyer also told the website that cyclists, especially those from a minority background, were made to feel “sort of uncomfortable, terrorised” by the constant police presence – and the use of a gun-like object – in the park. Last week, Toronto’s Chief of Police issued an apology after a recent study found that racial profiling and discrimination is a systemic issue within the police force.

Shellnut acknowledged that pedestrians can “get a little unnerved when a cyclist blows by in the park. I’m sure that happens, and I’m not discounting anybody’s feelings or experiences, but [seeking] solutions to those problems”, one of which is a possible dedicated morning slot for cyclists in the park to ride to work quickly and safely.

“Just because we have a billion-dollar hammer doesn’t mean every problem is a nail,” he said.

A Toronto Police spokesperson defended the anti-speeding campaign in the park, claiming that it is being carried out “in response to concerns and to help keep the community safe.”

“Members have been working with City by-law officers by stopping vehicles and cyclists witnessed speeding or committing offences such as failing to stop at stop signs. Police officers and by-law officers educate the driver or rider on their behaviour.

“These members situate themselves at stop signs at various locations in the park. This has served as an educational piece for cyclists being advised of the HTA infractions they could face as well as the inherent dangers of going too fast. Toronto Police Auxiliary Officers have also been detailed to patrol the park as well.

“This has been welcomed by the local community as well those visiting the park.”

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