Toronto Police Ticket National Team Cyclist in Empty Park for Idaho Stop
April 20, 2023
Chief Demkiw Mayor McKelvie
Toronto Police Service Board Office of the Mayor & Council
40 College St. 100 Queen St. W.
Toronto, ON M5G 2J3 Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
RE: TPS Ticketing Cyclists for the Safe Yield
Dear Chief Demkiw, Mayor McKelvie & Council,
Toronto Police stalked and ticketed Canadian National Team Cyclist Noah Ramsay on Tuesday April 18 in High Park. Snow was in the air, the park was deserted, yet TPS Constable Hall spent valuable time and resources ticketing cyclists for safe yields/Idaho Stops (something TPS is known to do themselves).
In 2022, Noah was training near Port Credit when a motorist furious at him for being on the road became so irate, he pulled a gun on Noah. With that experience in mind and seeing the weather forecast, Noah decided to cycle in High Park. He feels safe from motorists there and he knew with snow in the air pedestrians would be scarce.
A TPS SUV followed Noah and 2 motorists around High Park. When Noah and 1 motorist (side by side) each slowly rolled the stop at Colborne Lodge Rd, the TPS officer engaged his emergency lights/siren. He pulled Noah over, issuing him a $110 Fail to Stop ticket.
The TPS officer inexplicably drove the opposite way on the road in High Park (against traffic) and sat waiting, facing oncoming traffic, as Noah completed another lap. As Noah approached another stop sign, he ensured the way was clear (no pedestrians/vehicles), he reduced his speed markedly and continued through the stop sign. TPS Officer Hall floored it, chased Noah down and issued a second failure to stop ticket.
In neither case were any pedestrians at or near the stop signs.
It is of dubious merit that TPS issue tickets for safe rolling stop signs with videos surfacing of TPS officers on bikes doing the very same thing.
Our office is deeply concerned that we will see another summer of TPS targeting cyclists.
As major injury lawyers for cyclists, our day job isn’t fighting traffic tickets. We represent hundreds of seriously injured vulnerable road users. However, we are also dedicated to the safety and rights of vulnerable road users. We aim to see public resources focused on numerically significant causes of injury on our roads, dangerous and distracted driving by motorists.
Knowing that in the first 45 days of 2023 we saw 197 pedestrians and 32 cyclists hit by motorists (TPS data), it is incumbent upon us to point out this misdirection of public resources and inequitable treatment of road users, which TPS seemed poised to engage in for yet another summer.
An anti-cyclist bias must be discouraged amongst TPS officers.
In 2 days in June 2021, TPS and City Bylaw officers handed out 126 tickets (62 to cyclists and 64 to motorists) for speeding in High Park, not to National Team Athletes like Noah, but to people commuting to work. All while people were being maimed in motor vehicle collisions at Bloor and Keele and along Parkside Drive.
In 2022, the situation escalated, then Mayor Tory applauded police interventions in High Park. TPS officers waged a campaign against people on bikes in parks and on cycling throughways like Shaw Street despite TPS’ own evidence that motorists cause more death and serious injury than cyclists since 2006 at a staggering 17,000 to 6. Injustice and harm resulted throughout July and August 2022:
A cyclist was hit by an officer that rolled a stop sign (the very thing he was ticketing cyclists for);
An off duty TPS officer chased down and hit a woman off her bicycle causing injury;
Multiple cyclists were ticketed including one for trespassing in a park.
TPS consistently suggests community complaints are behind their crackdowns, but countless dangerous driving reports and bike lane parking infractions (which statistically cause more injury) are left unanswered daily by TPS. We know too, that a main source of park complaints TPS relies on come from a man by the name of Ian Hood who has had several complaints against him for inappropriate behaviour and harassment from both cyclists and other park users.
With City staff failing to take into account the conflict points in High Park with their proposed hybrid redesign plans (which also fail to take into account an overwhelming public desire for a fully car free High Park) we call on City Council to provide some urgent direction. At the upcoming IEC meeting related to the High Park Movement Strategy please ask why a fully car free park option was ignored, and a hybrid model, actually increasing motor vehicle access, was put forward. Ask how conflict points will be eliminated.
Please request an end to police harassment of cyclists in High Park and other cyclist safe zones. Engage Cycle Toronto to promote safe cycling and respect amongst all roads users in High Park. Police are not the answer to community concerns.
Support calls for a bicycle yield-as-stop law as suggested by Cycle Toronto.
We would welcome an opportunity to discuss this matter further.
Lawyer & Advocate