All Cyclists Rally - Community Statement
August 11, 2022 - For Immediate Release
On Thursday Aug. 11, 2022, people from across Toronto will ride together from High Park. We ride for safe streets and against injuries and injustice.
Despite uncontradicted data that motorists on the streets of Toronto cause infinitely more and disproportionate harm to people walking, people riding bikes and other Vulnerable Road Users, Toronto Police with the backing of Mayor Tory have descended on High Park, ticketing, harassing, and targeting people on bikes. A fearful series of events unfolded as a result:
July 25 - a racialized person riding a bike was ticketed for trespassing in the park.
July 29 - a racialized person riding a bike was harassed by a plain clothed officer in the park.
Aug 2 - Man riding a bike hit by TPS SUV prompts calls to diffuse police presence in High Park
These enforcement blitzes are an affront to everyone whose safety is regularly threatened by dangerous driving behaviour, which receives very little, if any, enforcement. Each day, we witness mayhem on the streets of Toronto: drivers parked in bike lanes, drivers distracted by cell phones, drivers making unsafe turns or running lights, rage-fueled aggressive driving, and yes, even police hitting people in bike lanes.
Enforcement of dangerous driving has not been a priority for TPS who handed out 140,000 fewer speeding tickets in 2018 and 44% less careless driving charges. The same force also substantially stopped doing traffic enforcement in Toronto in 2013, directly leading to an extra 140 preventable deaths on our streets, while the police chief lied to residents about the lack of enforcement and increasing danger.
This police force had no problem watching innocent people being violently killed by reckless motorists, no matter the public outcry around our increasingly deadly streets, and no matter the life sentences of anguish and grief inflicted on Torontonians and their families.
Everyone in High Park has the right to feel safe at all times, whether they are walking or rolling, and a solution is needed where people walking and riding may be in conflict. What has become clear is that over policing, which disproportionately targets racialized and vulnerable residents, is counterproductive to public safety and does not effectively address the legitimate issues brought forward by the community.
We are calling for informed municipal leadership:
Rapidly implement High Park infrastructure changes that will reduce danger and conflict between park users.
Immediately implement dedicated morning and evening hours for higher speed cycling training. Without ActiveTO, there is no place in Toronto to safely train.
End/review the TPS targeting of cyclists for minor HTA infractions in High Park.
Properly investigate and charge the off-duty officer who assaulted a woman on her bike and charge the officer who hit a person on a bike with a TPS SUV. The lack of accountability for officers who assault members of the public and hit people with SUVs destroys public trust.
Make High Park car free (with accessibility accommodation for seniors, those with disabilities, etc.)
Refocus City wide traffic safety enforcement around dangerous driving by significantly expanding automated enforcement, Vision Zero infrastructure changes, and public safety campaigns.
We recognize that there are community concerns, and since 2021, members of the cycling community in High Park have asked the City for help in solving those issues with City Staff and Cycle Toronto awareness campaigns, dedicated higher speed cycling hours, and infrastructure changes. Instead, we are met with police harassment and violence. People now avoid using our park because of fear of police and assault, and that is an injustice which must be immediately corrected.
Jess Spieker: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lanrick Bennett Jr.: email@example.com
David Shellnutt: firstname.lastname@example.org